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Table of contents :
Cover
Half Title
Title
Copyright
Contents
List of contributors
1 Introduction
Section 1 Themes
2 Sources of religious knowledge
3 Nature
4 Time and eternity
5 Creation in Early Christianity
6 Providence and evil
7 Ethics
8 Logic and religious language
9 The mystical element
Section 2 Doctrines
10 The Trinity
11 The philosophy of the incarnation
12 The philosophy of the resurrection in Early Christianity
13 Biblical hermeneutics
Section 3 Schools
14 The Presocratics
15 Socrates and Plato in the fathers
16 Aristotle and his school
17 Christians and Stoics
18 Epicureans
19 Cynics and Christians
20 Sceptics
21 Philo of Alexandria
22 Orpheus, Mithras, Hermes
23 Middle Platonists and Pythagoreans
24 Pagan and Christian philosophy: Plotinus, Iamblichus and Christian philosophical practice
25 The philosophy of the later Neoplatonists: an interaction with Christian thought
Section 4 Individuals
26 Justin and Athenagoras
27 Tatian, Theophilus of Antioch and Irenaeus of Lyons
28 Clement of Alexandria
29 Tertullian and Cyprian
30 “Hippolytus” and Epiphanius of Salamis
31 Origen and philosophy
32 The Sethians and the Gnostics of Plotinus
33 Arnobius and Lactantius
34 Philosophy in Eusebius and Marcellus
35 Arius and Athanasius
36 Marius Victorinus
37 Philosophy in Hilary of Poitiers and Ambrose of Milan
38 Eunomius of Cyzicus and Gregory of Nyssa
39 Didymus the Blind and Evagrius of Pontus
40 Synesius of Cyrene: philosophy and poetry “sharing the same temple”
41 Augustine of Hippo
42 Cyril of Alexandria
43 Theodoret of Cyrrhus
44 Boethius: the first Christian philosopher in the Latin West?
45 John Philoponus
46 Dionysius the Areopagite
47 Christian philosophy in Severus of Antioch and Leontius of Byzantium
Bibliography of primary texts
Index
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The Routledge Handbook of Early Christian Philosophy

This volume offers the most comprehensive survey available of the philosophical background to the works of early Christian writers and the development of early Christian doctrine. It examines how the same philosophical questions were approached by Christian and pagan thinkers; the philosophical element in Christian doctrines; the interaction of particular philosophies with Christian thought; and the constructive use of existing philosophies by all Christian thinkers of late antiquity. While most studies of ancient Christian writers and the development of early Christian doctrine make some reference to the philosophic background, this is often of an anecdotal character, and does not enable the reader to determine whether the likenesses are deep or superficial, or how pervasively one particular philosopher may have influenced Christian thought. This volume is designed to provide not only a body of facts more compendious than can be found elsewhere, but the contextual information which will enable readers to judge or clarify the statements that they encounter in works of more limited scope. With contributions by an international group of experts in both philosophy and Christian thought, this is an invaluable resource for scholars of early Christianity, Late Antiquity and ancient philosophy alike. Mark Edwards has been Tutor in Theology at Christ Church, Oxford, and University Lecturer/ Associate Professor in Patristics in the Faculty of Theology and Religion in the University of Oxford since 1993. Since 2014, he has held the title of Professor of Early Christian Studies. His books include Origen against Plato (2002), Catholicity and Heresy in the Early Church (2009), Image, Word and God in the Early Christian Centuries (2012), Religions of the Constantinian Empire (2015), and Aristotle and Early Christian Thought (2019).

‘For a modern intellectual culture that distrusts trust and prefers analysis to exegesis, the very notion of early Christian philosophy is apt to be an uncomfortable stretch. But Mark Edwards and company do not retreat to the safe, if vacuous, conjunction: early Christianity and philosophy, as if one were a prosthesis for the other. This volume’s concise forays into a still surprisingly unfamiliar intellectual landscape bring ancient philosophy into the heart of early Christian exegesis. The introduction by Edwards brilliantly articulates the stakes of following along.’ – James Wetzel, Villanova University, USA ‘This well-conceived collection of studies makes a powerful case that ancient Christians took philosophy seriously and historians of ancient philosophy need to take Christians seriously.’ – George Boys-Stones, University of Toronto, Canada ‘The Routledge Handbook of Early Christian Philosophy is a much welcome tool for students and researchers alike. Thanks to the excellent work of an international scholarly team of the highest calibre, the volume rightly moves away from the simplistic dualism of “reason versus faith” that still hinders a sophisticated understanding of Early Christianity’s complex ties to pagan philosophy, and it showcases, in a truly comprehensive fashion, their substantial areas of intersection in the first centuries of our era. The contributors demonstrate that the Christians’ engagement with the tools, tropes, and themes of pagan philosophy was not just considerably more constructive and dynamic than is often recognized, but that this very engagement was also a necessary enterprise for Christians.’ – Alberto Rigolio, University of Durham, UK

The Routledge Handbook of Early Christian Philosophy

Edited by Mark Edwards

First published 2021 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2021 selection and editorial matter, Mark Edwards; individual chapters, the contributors The right of Mark Edwards to be identified as the author of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted by them in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record for this book has been requested ISBN: 978-1-138-68504-8 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-315-54351-2 (ebk) Typeset in Bembo by Apex CoVantage, LLC

Contents

List of contributors

ix

 1 Introduction Mark Edwards

1

SECTION 1

Themes13   2 Sources of religious knowledge Peter Van Nuffelen

15

 3 Nature Johannes Zachhuber

27

  4 Time and eternity Ilaria L.E. Ramelli

41

  5 Creation in Early Christianity George Karamanolis

55

  6 Providence and evil Dylan M. Burns

68

 7 Ethics Teresa Morgan

81

  8 Logic and religious language Anna Zhyrkova

94

  9 The mystical element Andrew Louth

110

v

Contents

SECTION 2

Doctrines123 10 The Trinity Giulio Maspero

125

11 The philosophy of the incarnation Dirk Krausmüller

139

12 The philosophy of the resurrection in Early Christianity Sophie Cartwright

153

13 Biblical hermeneutics Scot Douglass

164

SECTION 3

Schools177 14 The Presocratics M. David Litwa

179

15 Socrates and Plato in the fathers Joseph S. O’Leary

191

16 Aristotle and his school Mark Edwards

206

17 Christians and Stoics Mark Edwards

219

18 Epicureans Mark Edwards

233

19 Cynics and Christians Mark Reasoner

240

20 Sceptics Mark Edwards

249

21 Philo of Alexandria Mark Edwards

256

22 Orpheus, Mithras, Hermes Fabienne Jourdan, Mark Edwards

267

vi

Contents

23 Middle Platonists and Pythagoreans Carl O’Brien

280

24 Pagan and Christian philosophy: Plotinus, Iamblichus and Christian philosophical practice Kevin Corrigan

293

25 The philosophy of the later Neoplatonists: an interaction with Christian thought Sarah Klitenic Wear

313

SECTION 4

Individuals329 26 Justin and Athenagoras Runar M. Thorsteinsson

331

27 Tatian, Theophilus of Antioch and Irenaeus of Lyons Josef Lössl

342

28 Clement of Alexandria Matyáš Havrda

357

29 Tertullian and Cyprian Allen Brent

372

30 “Hippolytus” and Epiphanius of Salamis Sébastien Morlet

382

31 Origen and philosophy Panayiotis Tzamalikos

397

32 The Sethians and the Gnostics of Plotinus Tuomas Rasimus

426

33 Arnobius and Lactantius Kristina A. Meinking

438

34 Philosophy in Eusebius and Marcellus Aaron P. Johnson

450

35 Arius and Athanasius Winrich Löhr

461

vii

Contents

36 Marius Victorinus Chiara Ombretta Tommasi

475

37 Philosophy in Hilary of Poitiers and Ambrose of Milan Isabella Image

490

38 Eunomius of Cyzicus and Gregory of Nyssa Andrew Radde-Gallwitz

503

39 Didymus the Blind and Evagrius of Pontus Mark Edwards

516

40 Synesius of Cyrene: philosophy and poetry “sharing the same temple” Irini-Fotini Viltanioti

528

41 Augustine of Hippo John Peter Kenney

549

42 Cyril of Alexandria Christoph Riedweg

562

43 Theodoret of Cyrrhus Mark Edwards

575

44 Boethius: the first Christian philosopher in the Latin West? Thomas Jürgasch

584

45 John Philoponus Orna Harari

597

46 Dionysius the Areopagite Mark Edwards

609

47 Christian philosophy in Severus of Antioch and Leontius of Byzantium Benjamin Gleede

619

Bibliography of primary texts 632 Index639

viii

Contributors

Allen Brent is former Professor of Early Christian History and Iconography, King’s College,

London, Visiting Professor at the Augustinianum (Lateran University), Rome, and Fellow of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge. He is co-editor, with Professor Markus Vincent, of Studia Patristica and editorial board advisor for Vetera Christianorum. His most recent book was Cyprian and Roman Carthage (2010). Dylan M. Burns holds a Ph.D. from Yale University and is a research associate at the Freie

Universität Berlin. He has published widely on Gnosticism, later Greek philosophy, M ­ anichaeism, and their modern reception, including his books Apocalypse of the Alien God (2014) and Did God Care? (2020). Sophie Cartwright has a Ph.D. in patristic theology from the University of Edinburgh and is author of The Theological Anthropology of Eustathius of Antioch (2015). Kevin Corrigan is Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Interdisciplinary Humanities in the

Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, ­ eorgia. His recent publications include Love, Friendship, Beauty and the Good: Plato, Aristotle, G and the Later Tradition (2018). Scot Douglass is Professor in the Herbst Program of Engineering, Ethics  & Society and

­ irector of the Engineering Honors Program at the University of Colorado Boulder. He is D author of Theology of the Gap: Cappadocian Language Theory and the Trinitarian Controversy (2005), co-editor with Morwenna Ludlow of Reading the Church Fathers (2011) and is currently working on In/Between an Event: Paul, Dostoevsky and the Christian Now. Mark Edwards has been Tutor in Theology at Christ Church, Oxford, and University Lecturer/Associate Professor in Patristics in the Faculty of Theology and Religion in the University of Oxford since 1993. Since 2014, he has held the title of Professor of Early Christian Studies. His books include Origen against Plato (2002), Catholicity and Heresy in the Early Church (2009), Image, Word and God in the Early Christian Centuries (2012), Religions of the Constantinian Empire (2015), and Aristotle and Early Christian Thought (2019). Benjamin Gleede is currently Privatdozent at Zurich University and holder of a Werner Heisenberg fellowship at Tübingen University. His focal areas of research are ancient cosmology, Christology and textual criticism.

ix

Contributors

Orna Harari is a faculty member at the Department of Classics and the Department of

­Philosophy at Tel Aviv University. Her research focuses on ancient logic, theories of knowledge, and philosophy of mathematics in Aristotle and the ancient commentators on Aristotle. Matyáš Havrda is a senior researcher at the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences. He has published The So-Called Eighth Stromateus by Clement of Alexandria (2016) and studies dealing with ethical and epistemological issues in early Christian thought and Galenic medicine. In cooperation with Pauline Koetschet, he is preparing a collection of fragments of Galen’s lost treatise On Demonstration. Isabella Image writes and teaches on patristics and Late Antiquity. Her book The Human Condition in Hilary of Poitiers, based on her Oxford D. Phil. thesis, was published in 2017. Aaron P. Johnson specializes in the intellectual cultures of Late Antiquity and is particularly

interested in the thought and legacy of Porphyry of Tyre. His books have focused on Eusebius of Caesarea and Porphyry; he is currently working on the first English translation of Cyril of Alexandria’s apologetic treatise, Contra Julianum (in collaboration with Matthew Crawford). Fabienne Jourdan is Researcher at the CNRS in Paris (“Habilitée à diriger des recherches”).

She has published on Dionysos and on Orphism in Antiquity, in Jewish-Hellenistic literature and in the Church Fathers (2003–2011). She works presently on Middle Platonism and more specially on Plutarch and Numenius. Her new translated and commented edition of Numenius’ Fragments will be published soon. Thomas Jürgasch is a junior professor of Early Christian Studies at the University of Tübingen. He studied theology and philosophy in Freiburg and Oxford, and is the author of Theoria versus Praxis? Zur Entwicklung eines Prinzipienwissens im Bereich der Praxis in Antike und Spätantike (2013). His research interests include the reception of Neoplatonism in early Christian thought (Boethius, Dionysius Ps-Areopagita), (late) ancient ethics, and semiotics. George Karamanolis is a historian of philosophy working primarily on ancient philosophy

while maintaining research interests also in Byzantine and Renaissance philosophy. He has published two monographs, Plato and Aristotle in Agreement? Platonists on Aristotle from Antiochus to Porphyry (2006), and The Philosophy of Early Christianity (2013) (revised edition forthcoming). He is Associate Professor in Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Vienna. John Peter Kenney is Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at Saint Michael’s College. He is

the author of The Mysticism of Saint Augustine: Rereading the Confessions (2005) and Contemplation and Classical Christianity: A Study in Augustine (2013), and co-editor of Christian Platonism: A History (forthcoming). Dirk Krausmüller studied Greek and Latin literature at the universities of Giessen and Munich. Having held posts at the University of Birmingham, Dumbarton Oaks (Washington D.C.), Queen’s University Belfast and Mardin Artuklu University in Turkey, he now teaches and researches at the University of Vienna. He has published numerous studies of Byzantine philosophy and theology, with particular attention to the use of Aristotelian logic in Christology.

x

Contributors

M. David Litwa is a scholar of ancient Mediterranean religions with a focus on early Christianity. His current appointment is at the Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry at the Australian Catholic University. Recent publications include How the Gospel Became History: Jesus and Mediterranean Myth (2019), Desiring Divinity (2016), and Posthuman Transformation (2021). Winrich Löhr is University Professor (Chair of Historical Theology: Ancient and Medieval) at the Faculty of Theology of the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität in Heidelberg/Germany. Publications include Basilides und seine Schule: Eine Studie zur Theologie- und Kirchengeschichte des zweiten Jahrhunderts (1996); Pélage et le Pélagianisme (2015); Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum (RAC; co-editor). Josef Lössl is Professor of Religion and Theology at Cardiff University, specializing in the study of early Christianity, patristics, and Late Antiquity. He is co-editor of A Companion to Religion in Late Antiquity (2018) and executive editor of Vigiliae Christianae: A Review of Early Christian Life and Language. Andrew Louth is Professor Emeritus of Patristic and Byzantine Studies, University of Durham. His research has largely been in patristics, beginning with a monograph of Platonism and the Christian mystical tradition (1981; 2nd ed. with afterword, 2007), and monographs on Denys the Areopagite (1989), Maximus the Confessor (1996) and John Damascene (2002). Giulio Maspero is Full Professor at the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical University of Holy Cross (Rome). He is a member of the Association Internationale des Etudes Patristiques (AIEP) and a full member of the Pontifical Academy of Theology (PATH). He has published mainly on Gregory of Nyssa, Trinitarian theology and the relationship between philosophy and theology. Kristina A. Meinking is Associate Professor of Classical Studies at Elon University (North

Carolina, U.S.). Her research focuses on intellectual history, religion and politics in the fourth century C.E. as well as late antique literature and historiography. Teresa Morgan is Professor of Graeco-Roman history at the University of Oxford and Nancy Bissell Turpin Fellow and Tutor in Ancient History at Oriel College, and McDonald-Agape Professor-Elect of New Testament and Early Christianity at Yale Divinity School. Her writing spans ancient cultural history and the history of ideas, ethics, New Testament studies and patristics, and she is currently writing a three-volume history and theology of early Christian faith. Sébastien Morlet is Maître de conférences at Sorbonne Université (Paris). As a specialist of Greek patristics, he is the director of the series Histoire de la littérature grecque chrétienne (vol. 4–6). His main monographs are Christianisme et philosophie: Les premières confrontations Ier-VIe s. (2014), and Les chrétiens et la culture: conversion d’un concept Ier-VIe s. (2016). Carl O’Brien is a lecturer in the Department of Philosophy, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität

­Heidelberg. Publications include The Demiurge in Ancient Thought (2015), Seele und Materie im Neuplatonismus/Soul and Matter in Neoplatonism (co-edited with J. Halfwassen and T. Dangel, 2016), Platonic Love from Antiquity to the Renaissance (co-edited with J. Dillon, forthcoming) and a forthcoming translation of selected writings of J. Halfwassen: Plotinus, Neoplatonism and the Transcendence of the One.

xi

Contributors

Joseph S. O’Leary studied with Pierre Nautin and Charles Kannengiesser in Paris, and brought a Heidegger-inspired hermeneutic to patristic texts in Questioning Back: The Overcoming of Metaphysics in Christian Tradition (1985) and Christianisme et philosophie chez Origène (2011), as well as in essays on Augustine and Gregory of Nyssa. Living in Japan since 1983, he taught literature at Sophia University, Tokyo and worked on Buddhist-Christian theology at the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture, Nagoya. Andrew Radde-Gallwitz is Associate Professor in the Program of Liberal Studies at the Uni-

versity of Notre Dame. He is the author, most recently, of Gregory of Nyssa’s Doctrinal Works: A Literary Study (2018), and he serves as editor and translator for the Cambridge Edition of Early Christian Writings. Ilaria L.E. Ramelli has been Professor of Roman History and of Theology, endowed Chair

(Angelicum) of Theology (Hon., Durham), Member of the Centre for the Study of Platonism (Cambridge), Senior Fellow and  Visiting Professor at major universities: Oxford, Durham, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Columbia, Sacred Heart U., B.U., Emory, N.D., Chicago, Erfurt MWK etc. Tuomas Rasimus is Docent at the University of Helsinki and Associate Professor at Université

Laval. He has published widely on early Christianity, Gnosticism and Neoplatonism. He is the author of Paradise Reconsidered in Gnostic Mythmaking (2009) as well as (co-)editor of Stoicism in Early Christianity (2010), The Legacy of John (2010), and Gnosticism, Platonism and the Late Ancient World (2013). Mark Reasoner is Professor of Theology at Marian University (Indianapolis). He is the author of The Strong and the Weak: Romans 14:1–15:13 in Context and Romans in Full Circle: A History of Interpretation. Christoph Riedweg is Professor of Classics/Greek at the University of Zurich. His main research areas include Late Archaic poetry and philosophy (in particular Orphism, Pythagoreanism), tragedy, Jewish-Hellenistic and early Christian literature, as well as Platonism and its reception in the Early Imperial Period and in Late Antiquity. His publications include the edition of Cyril of Alexandria’s against Julian 1–5 (2016). Runar M. Thorsteinsson is Professor of New Testament Studies at the University of Iceland. He earned his doctoral degree at Lund University in Sweden in 2003, subsequently working as an assistant professor and researcher at Lund University and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, before moving to Iceland in 2013. His field of interest includes Pauline studies as well as early Christian philosophy. Chiara Ombretta Tommasi is Associate Professor of History of Religions at the University of

Pisa. She is a member of LEM, Laboratoire sur les Monothéismes, UMR 8584 (CNRS, Paris, France), and was nominated Fellow of the Academia Europaea in 2019. Her most recent publications include a commentary on Arnobius’ Against the Gentiles (2017). Panayiotis Tzamalikos is Professor of Philosophy at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

He is the author, among others, of the books The Concept of Time in Origen; Origen: ­Cosmology and Ontology of Time; Origen: Philosophy of History and Eschatology; Anaxagoras, Origen, and xii

Contributors

Neoplatonism – The Legacy of Anaxagoras to Classical and Late Antiquity; Origen: New Fragments from the Commentary on Matthew. Peter Van Nuffelen is Professor of Ancient History at Ghent University, Belgium, with a particular interest in early Christianity, ancient philosophy and Late Antiquity. Recent books include Penser la tolérance durant l’Antiquité tardive (2018). Irini-Fotini Viltanioti is Associate Professor of Ancient Philosophy at the University of Crete and an affiliated member of the KULeuven’s Institute of Philosophy. Sarah Klitenic Wear is Professor of Classics at Franciscan University of Steubenville. She has

published monographs on Platonism, as well as articles and edited volumes. She co-edits, with Frederick Lauritzen, the book series Theandrites: Studies in Byzantine Philosophy and Christian Platonism (Franciscan University Press). Johannes Zachhuber is Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at the University of Oxford. He holds degrees from the University of Oxford and Humboldt University, Berlin. His publications include Human Nature in Gregory of Nyssa (1999), Theology as Science in NineteenthCentury Germany (2013), and The Rise of Christian Theology and the End of Ancient Metaphysics (2020). Anna Zhyrkova is a professor of philosophy at Department of Philosophy, Jesuit University

Ignatianum in Krakow. She received her Ph.D. degree in patristic theology and habilitation degree in ancient philosophy. She specializes in the field of Neoplatonism and in Greek patristic philosophical thought. She was awarded grants of Poland’s National Science Center for studying philosophical outcomes of Christological debates of the fifth and sixth centuries and is a member of a team working on a new Polish edition of Plotinus’ Enneads within the National Program of Development of Humanities established by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Poland.

xiii

1 Introduction Mark Edwards

Objectives The purpose of this volume is to furnish both scholars and students with a comprehensive survey of the uses in early Christian thought of the tools, the tropes and the themes of philosophy as that term was commonly understood in the ancient world. Contributors of accredited expertise have been asked to furnish chapters on individual thinkers, on the pagan schools of thought which served as a foil or as a quarry to these thinkers, and on certain perennial topics of discourse which engaged the most philosophical minds of the church in the first six centuries of the Christian era. The value of such an enterprise must lie in its having no controlling narrative, in being as hospitable to the infantile polemics of Epiphanius as to the seminal improvisations of Clement or Gregory of Nyssa, in accommodating both the opportunistic scepticism of Arnobius and the fathomless meditations of Augustine. As the titles of the chapters explain themselves, and as the ordering of chapters within each section is either chronological or arbitrary, no editorial summary could confer a specious unity on the volume, and historians of the early church will judge it by the accuracy and completeness of its contents. Philosophers and theologians, on the other hand, may have a particular interest in the publisher’s choice of a title for this volume – not “Early Christianity and Philosophy” but “Early Christian Philosophy” – which suggests that philosophy was an intrinsic element in early Christian thought, or in other words that the characteristic engagements of believers with philosophy in the Roman world were not apologetic or polemical but constructive, not passive or sequacious but dynamic, and even at times reciprocal. To say this is to say something more than that Christians were “influenced” by philosophy, a metaphor which could easily imply that the church was merely the last receptacle in an automatic process of diffusion. It is to say that Christianity took its place beside the existing schools as a creed with its own foundations and entailing a distinct way of life, but at the same time capable of defining and communicating its tenets in terms that entitled it to a hearing not only in courts of law but at the bar of reason. Banal as it must seem to many, this thesis has been denied by both the friends and the enemies of Christianity, both consciously and unconsciously, from antiquity to the present; on the other hand, it has sometimes been maintained, by ancient as well as by modern apologists, with a vigour that belies the insistence of all the acknowledged 1

Mark Edwards

doctors of the church that human reason is blind without a divine revelation. This introduction therefore will attempt to explain how early Christian thinkers undertook to coordinate reason with faith without betraying either the Word of God or their likeness to God as rational creatures, with results that set them apart from the other schools without rendering them incomprehensible. The final section will argue that, although these results will not satisfy the majority of modern theologians, it remains possible to profit by the example of the first Christians even when we do not defer to them as fathers. We cannot treat them as they treated the Bible, but we can read them as patiently as they read Plato or Aristotle, and with a similar hope of gleaning the elements of a new philosophy that will at once supersede them and preserve them from obsolescence.

Why philosophise? For more than one reason, it would be a fallacy to imagine that the adoption of philosophy was a means by which some Christians “came to terms” (Grant 1988: 9) with the ambient society. The texts that we call apologies, although this word signifies a defence in court, were not calculated to win the goodwill of readers whose religion they held up to sustained derision; they turn the charges back on their accusers with all the truculence of Socrates, and when any Christian prisoner addresses his “apology” to a Roman assize, it is with the intention of joining Socrates on the roll of martyrs (see further Frede 2006; Edwards 2009: 38–39). Plato in his Gorgias acknowledges that this is the likely fate of one who takes pleasure in baiting the sophists or teachers of political science, yet despises their forensic artifices; whereas his interlocutors warned Socrates that one day he would have nothing to say in court (Gorgias 486a-c), Christ positively enjoins his own disciples to prepare nothing for that occasion but leave all to the Holy Spirit (Luke 12.12). It might seem that the apologists have preempted his assistance by assuming the philosopher’s cloak (Justin, Trypho 1); but in doing so they were at best exchanging obloquy for ridicule, as Plato confessed in the Theaetetus (174a–176a), with his caricature of the sage as one who does not know his way to the agora, never hears the news of the city, and fails to perceive that his welfare depends on playing toady to his political masters. Cicero, the doyen of Latin philosophy, commends it as an occupation for leisure and a source of consolation, but denies that either a Stoic or an Epicurean can serve the state if he lives strictly by his own creed (On Ends 2.60; Defence of Murena 61–62). Seneca, who professes to be a Stoic, admits without shame that “little remained” of his youthful austerities when he took up urban life (Letters to Lucilius 18.108–115). The first apologists wrote in the era of the “second sophistic”, to quote the name conferred upon it by its historian Philostratus (Lives of the Sophists), and Philostratus was at pains to distinguish the sophist, who owes his livelihood to the cities and wealthy patrons whom he flatters with recondite eloquence, from the more angular type who cherishes his ­philosophy with no thought of his own advancement or the public good. Why then be a philosopher when one was already an alien? One answer might be that even those who are willing to die for their faith might wish to persuade themselves and the world that they have not died without a reason. This was the indictment brought against the Christian martyrs by philosophers of all schools in the second century – by Galen the Platonist (Differences of the Pulse 3.3), Lucian the occasional Cynic (Runaways 1), Celsus the putative Epicurean, the rigid Epictetus (Discourses 4.7.6) and his eclectic fellow-Stoic, the Emperor Marcus (Meditations 11.3): philosophers, they argued, suffer execution or suicide when they must, as a demonstration of rational fortitude, whereas Christians quit the world only because they have not learned how to live (see further Gathercole 2017). No way of life in late antiquity was more distinctive than that of the Christians, who, for all their professed indifference to dress and diet, were 2

Introduction

ostentatious to the point of recklessness in their abstinence from sacrifice, idolatry and the swearing of oaths to the emperor; proudly declaring that though they married they did not kill their children, they also commended lifelong virginity, broke up existing marriages between Christian and pagans, and gave further evidence of their unsocial tendencies by eschewing military service, condemning a number of other trades and refusing magistracies (Tertullian, On the Soldier’s Crown; On Idolatry 5; Origen, Against Celsus 8.73). If all these affronts to the common sense of the pagan world were not to be ascribed to mere perversity or “hatred of the human race” (Tacitus, Annals 15.44.4), it was necessary to give them an intellectual foundation: this the apologists undertook to furnish by showing that the principles of Christian thought were in fact the very principles that had guided the best philosophers to their deaths. For as we have been reminded by Pierre Hadot (1995), philosophy in the ancient world was more than an intellectual gymnastic: it was also a summons to moral endeavour, setting before the student a certain ideal of the good and equipping him to pursue it for all that the body, the world and the senses may say in mockery or remonstrance. The Stoic was known by his fortitude, the Epicurean by his equanimity, the Cynic by his indifference to precept and precedent; even the Peripatetic, who never disowned the logic, the natural science or the theology of his master as the Stoics disowned the theoretical writings of Chrysippus (Epictetus, Discourses 1.3), prized these studies only because he held that eudaimonia or happiness cannot be achieved without satisfying our natural thirst for knowledge. As Arthur Darby Nock (1933) observed before Hadot, philosophy is the true analogue in the ancient world to what we now call religion, if we understand by “religion” neither doctrine alone nor morality alone but a coinherent unity of life and thought in which each is master and servant to the other. A goal so much at odds with the vulgar craving for animal pleasures and social approval was not commonly sought, then or now, and still less commonly achieved. At the same time – and more perhaps then than now – the amusement that it inspired was apt to be tempered by admiration for the philosopher’s self-sufficiency and his dauntless freedom of speech – his parrhêsia, in Cynic parlance – in the presence of those before whom most would tremble. The ancient republic of letters celebrated its philosophers as the Pharisees (according to the New Testament) revered the tombs of the prophets whom their own forefathers had slain (Matthew 23.29; Luke 11.47). Parrhêsia, freedom of speech before God and his creatures, was also the boast of the primitive church: the more successful Christians were in assimilating themselves to the philosophers, the harder it would be for pagan writers to disparage them as ignorant desperadoes. The harder it would be, indeed, to put them to death at all, for, setting aside the few infamous exceptions of which we have spoken, the norm in the pagan world was to let the Cynic go his way and to laugh at the Stoic behind his back without depriving either of his right to differ. Philostratus, though he championed the public rhetorician against the thinking pedant, assumed that every reader of his Life of Apollonius of Tyana would take the side of the barefoot sage, not only against the emperor but against his more parochial rivals, the temporising philosopher and the superstitious priest. He also assumes that the reader will agree with him that miracles are not the wise man’s currency but a bauble to be tossed now and then to the ignorant; that we make ourselves kin to the gods by attuning the mind to their inspirations, not by disavowing our natural fathers; and that when such a favourite of heaven is falsely arraigned, he will possess both the eloquence to refute the charges (8.6-7) and the power to escape at the moment of his choice (8.8). The parody of the gospels in this work, extending even to the unprecedented depiction of pagan exorcisms (3.38-39; Edwards 2006), indicates that he could no longer hope, like Galen, to dispose of the pretensions of Christianity in an aside. Half a century earlier, the True Logos of Celsus had borne reluctant witness to the necessity of meeting these claims with the weapons of philosophy. Lucian of Samosata, a friend perhaps 3

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of this same Celsus, makes a similar concession when he compares the Christians to their disadvantage with the Cynics, hitherto the most maligned of the ancient sects (Peregrinus 11–14; Edwards 1989). By proxy he confers on them the distinction of being fellow-atheists with the Epicureans (Alexander 38). When Celsus taxes Christians with bad citizenship, he repeats an accusation that was levelled against both Cynics and Epicureans (Downing 1993); while the avoidance of pagan altars was mandatory for all Christians, Plotinus reveals that the Gnostics had become atheists twice over by compounding this offence with an Epicurean denial of any divine solicitude for the world. From all of which it follows that, if the Cynic and the Epicurean are nonetheless philosophers, so is the Christian. There is no reason to suppose that in the last case, any more than in the others, the assumption of this persona was merely strategic. The recognised objects of the true philosopher were to understand the nature of the world and to live with integrity; a Christian, actuated as he must be by the same motives, would be discontented on his own account, and not only in his role as an apologist, if he failed to ground his faith on rational premises or to demonstrate its logical cohesion. In the novel entitled the Clementine Recognitions, the vision which converts the young protagonist fulfils his desire to understand his own origins and that of the universe that he inhabits. Both the Apostolic Constitutions and the Catechetical Oration of Gregory of Nyssa suggest that the instruction of a neophyte in the fourth century included a proof that the world was the product of a single creator; in the second century, most apologists took the complementary approach of exposing the patent absurdity of polytheism and the efforts of pagan sculptors to distinguish one counterfeit deity from another. Augustine in his Confessions leaves us the record of a mind that was driven from one phantasm of knowledge to another by his recurrent questioning of received opinions on the origin of evil, the nature of matter and the constitution of the soul. However skilfully Christians plied the tools of classical rhetoric, they styled themselves philosophers to show that, unlike the sophists, they valued the arts of persuasion only insofar as they led to knowledge.

On method It is necessary to labour this point that philosophy commences with inquiry because it has all too often been deemed sufficient to stack up quotations from Plato or the Stoics to prove the adherence of an author to one of these schools. Where quotations fail, mere similarity of tenets (as perceived by the modern critic) will furnish a warrant for commending or denouncing him as a Middle Platonist or an Aristotelian; since, in many instances, the argument leaps from one prooftext to another, taking no account (for example) of the crude facts of chronology, it is hardly to be expected that the more abstruse question, “how did the author arrive at this opinion?” will be mooted, let alone answered. Yet even the Greek doxographers, superficial as they are in their juxtapositions of the dogmas held by each sect on successive items in a disjointed inventory of topics, are aware that each begins from different premises, some acknowledging only the evidence of the senses while others maintained that the intellect has access to a more permanent order of being, and some appealing first to common notions while others doubted all that they heard but advanced no dogmas of their own. We may say if we will that Plato and Aristotle both assert the primacy of form to matter, that Plato anticipates the Stoics in rejecting the necessity of external goods to happiness, and that at the same time he agrees with Epicurus in equating the greatest happiness with the maximum of pleasure. If we deduce that all thinkers in antiquity were Platonists, ignoring their disparate views on the number and nature of the gods and on the composition and destiny of the soul, we must consign to

4

Introduction

the flames every history of Greek thought that has ever been written since the first book of Aristotle’s Metaphysics. It was Nietzsche who introduced the term “agonistic” (from Greek agôn, meaning a public competition) to describe the Greek world in its creative ferment (1890/1973). When a Greek wins fame by speaking, another Greek will aspire to fame by speaking against him, all the more so if his rival be a Homer or a Plato. Nothing is more Greek than to contradict another Greek, or even, as Plato sometimes does, the Greeks at large. And thus there could be no clearer manifestation of the Greek spirit in Christian thought than to set up a new philosophy which professed to explode the errors of the others while securing the ends for which they were established and affording a more secure rationale for the truths upon which they had come by accident. Again the point needs to be laboured because the uniform response among theologians to the appearance of recent monographs contending that Origen was not a Platonist has been to accuse the authors of a polarisation of Christianity and Hellenism which, we are given to understand, is long outmoded (see e.g. Martens 2015). One assumes that it is the hasty spirit of “advocacy” (Martens 2019: 188) that has blinded them to the obvious rejoinder that if opposition to Plato is opposition to Hellenism, the true barbarians of the ancient world would not be the Christians but Aristotle, Epicurus, Diogenes and the Stoics. Classicists, of course, oppose these figures to one another all the time without denying the Hellenic franchise to any of them, and also without implying that one must be wrong and the other right. Once we have laid aside our own convictions, the judgment that Origen is not a Platonist implies no more disparagement of the Academy than of the church. The need for light, in a controversy that Origen himself has done much to obscure, can be gauged from the most recent farrago of evidence purporting to show that Origen “rejected a literal [that is, somatic] paradise” in his exegesis of Genesis 2–3. Some of these set the Garden of Eden apart from the present world, others locate the paradise of the saints in a new earth, others merely assert the preexistence of souls (among which some assert only preexistence in the womb), and the least relevant of all give an allegorical sense to paradise, as Origen does with all historical matter in the Old Testament, without either denying or ascribing any form of corporeality to the biblical paradise of Adam and Eve. If a belief in a heaven of strictly disembodied souls were the diagnostic of Platonism, none of these texts, except for those in the first group, would have any bearing on the question. On the other hand, it would be easy enough to reconcile both the first and the second groups with the eschatology of the Phaedo, in which the abode of souls after quitting the body is a terrestrial place, inaccessible to the mortal element in us, where all that deserves to exist is immune to change and endowed with a purity and intensity of which our senses now grasp only the shadow (Phaedo 90b–115a). That Origen held to some form of preexistence is common ground among scholars; his arguments for the rationality of the soul in the womb contradict our one surviving treatise on the subject by a Platonist, but the mere existence of Porphyry’s Ad Gaurum testifies to disagreement within the school. The same author’s Cave of the Nymphs reveals that Platonists were no less willing than Origen to treat the same text as a record of history and as a subject for allegorical reflection. Thus, if mere coincidence between elements of Platonic thought and elements of Origen’s thought is sufficient proof, there can be no doubt that Origen is a Platonist; the price of proving the case in this way, however, is that we make it unfalsifiable, since any passage in Origen which strictly affirmed the incorporeality of paradise could be cited to show that he held to some other species of Platonism. A thesis worthy of academic discussion must be one that could be refuted, and for this reason if for no other the question of Origen’s Platonism must be canvassed with respect to first principles, not with respect to anecdotal agreements, however specious.

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Avoiding the genealogical fallacy To borrow a striking instance from philology, the French for “water” is “eau”, and the Hittite is “watar”, but we do not for that reason deduce that the relation of English to Hittite is more organic than the relation of English to French. An analogue from modern philosophy may be instructive for those who are familiar with that discipline. In ethics it has been customary to distinguish deontologists, who hold that moral principles are normative without reference to any other factor, from consequentialists, who hold that an act should be judged by its consequences, which commonly (though not always) means by its tendency to increase the sum of happiness. While utilitarians measure happiness by pleasure, others appeal to an Aristotelian notion of eudaimonia, often translated as human flourishing. Among deontologists, some may invoke divine commandments, others a universal intuition; Kantians define a moral act as one that affirms our autonomy as rational beings. Opposed to all these schools are the emotivists, who contend that judgments of right or wrong are merely strong expressions of our liking or distaste. Debate between the partisans of each theory can be keen, but if one were to ask them collectively their opinion of murder, paedophilia, theft or vandalism, they would answer with one voice that these are actions to be eschewed. It would obviously be absurd to conclude that emotivism is merely a branch of intuitionism because exemplars of both agree that arson and shoplifting are crimes. It might be more illuminating to compare their views on abortion, adultery or benign deceit; but if this were our sole criterion, we might be surprised to find that two philosophers who agreed on almost everything were nonetheless engaged in ceaseless polemic because the judgments of one were based on intuition and those of the other on a calculation of social benefits. The typical question to students therefore would not be “is this action right or wrong?”, but “what is the premiss by which our calling it right or wrong is justified?” This is not to deny that Origen, like Clement of Alexandria before him and like many of his future imitators, was conscious of affinities between the dogmas of Platonism and his beliefs as a Christian. In certain passages of his work Against Celsus, indeed, he accentuates and perhaps exaggerates these similarities. At the same time, throughout this lucubration he contrasts the beliefs of Christians – which to him are “our” beliefs – with those of all other Greek philosophies, and almost always with an assertion or implication of superiority. Thus Plato may speak well when he affirms that it is difficult to find out the Father and Maker of this universe, but not so well as the scriptures which declare this to be impossible without his own revelation (Against Celsus 7.42; Plato, Timaeus 28c). By this revelation the scripture means not only itself but the truth that was secretly embodied in its many words until the one eternal Word assumed our flesh and thereby rendered visible to the mind what remains invisible to the eye. Origen does not follow Justin and Clement in ascribing to Plato a surreptitious knowledge of the Old Testament; for him it is enough to note that, if a Christian quoting Moses happens to agree with Plato, only the Greek falls prey to the suspicion of plagiarism. At no point in his reply to Celsus does Origen concede that any doctrine can be accepted on the authority of Plato; at no point does he admit that the Christian has any use for pagan thought except when it contributes to the exegesis or vindication of the sacred text. In a letter to his disciple Gregory Thaumaturgus, he described the appropriation of philosophical and philological tools from the Greeks as a spoiling of the Egyptians – that is, a theft which is in fact no theft but a retrieval of those treasures which were loaned to the nations only until such time as they were required by the people of God (Philokalia 13). The question is not in reality whether Origen subscribed to Plato’s theory of preexistence, since it is universally granted that he did not. Few students of his works would now accept the ancient charge that he taught the transmigration of souls; no one doubts that in his thought the 6

Introduction

descent of this soul, whatever occasions it, is a descent from God, and not (as Plato taught) from an independent realm of forms (Commentary on John 20.162). And if we accept, on the testimony of his Byzantine critics, that he believed all rational beings to have begun their existence as disembodied intellects, some of whom then sank to the condition of angels, others to that of souls and others again to that of daemons, we are attributing to him a doctrine that could not even have been formulated by Plato. On the other hand, it is equally impossible to deny that he held some theory of preexistence – perhaps indeed more than one theory, since he manifestly affirms a fall of angels (Against Celsus 6.43), a descent – and at times a fall – of souls into ­bodies, a fall of the first two human beings in paradise (whatever this name may signify at Against Celsus 7.39), and a fall of the soul from innocence in its present state of embodiment (First Principles 1.3.8–1.4.1). A Platonic origin might be proposed for the second and fourth, but not so readily for the first and third. We need not doubt that Origen was conscious of philosophic antecedents, and it is plausibly surmised that he made use of nascent Platonic speculations in his attempts to conceive the body after death. It is possible that his own conjectures informed the thinking of Platonists after him, as they clearly informed the thinking of Didymus, Evagrius and other Christian authors (see Schibli 1992; Szymańska-Kuta 2015). No one is arguing, therefore, that he refused to engage in dialogue with the Platonists, any more than anyone is arguing that he was in all respects a disciple of Plato. What then is the true subject of this controversy, the prize for which we so often appear to be fighting a battle by night? The issue, I would suggest, is whether Origen first devised a philosophy and then looked for a cosmetic legitimation of this in scripture, or whether he turns to philosophy, as he himself avers in his letter to Gregory Thaumaturgus (Philokalia 13), as a means of elucidating the genuine problems which the scriptures have thrown in his way as an exegete. Surely the onus of proof is on those who maintain the first view, in the teeth of Origen’s statement of his own method, and in the absence of any writing in his name that admits a first principle other than scriptural testimony. Origen discusses nothing, not even the flight of birds, without appealing to a book, and it is surely his unshakable allegiance to the authority of every word in scripture that requires him to entertain some belief in the preexistence of souls and yet forbids him to hold any settled and uniform theory. Knowing that the church countenances no doctrine of transmigration, he nonetheless surmises that Esau sinned in a previous life (First Principles 2.9.6). Fear of selfcontradiction would have forced him to be more circumspect were he merely a philosopher; as an exegete, however, he must account for the decision of a just God to love Jacob and to hate Esau before either of them had performed one work that could merit reward or reprobation. Where exactly Esau had lived his previous life – in the presence of God, in paradise, in another human body or in his mother’s womb – he cannot say, because he does not have a prefabricated doctrine; he derives from Plato at most a dim intimation of a solution to a riddle that was not of Plato’s making, since Plato does not have to defend a doctrine of special providence, administered by an almighty, omniscient and omnibenevolent God. The scriptures thus play for Origen the role that the senses play for an Epicurean and common notions for a Peripatetic: if his goal, like that of the Platonists, is the vision of the invisible, he does not identify this object with the realm of ideas or with an impersonal form of the Good, but with God himself, the very God whom we meet as Logos when we apprehend the most profound, or “mystical”, sense of scripture. No true parallel can be found in pagan literature to this apotheosis of the text. It is true, as George Karamanolis has observed (2014: 14–15), that in late antiquity the commonest mode of reasoning for Peripatetics and Platonists is commentary on a magisterial corpus which is assumed to be free of error and contradiction. For all that, the infallibility of the text was not so much a matter of faith as a working hypothesis, and hence it was required of the expositor that his reading should make not only good sense but good 7

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philosophy – that is, that he would be constantly reinforcing by his own arguments the authority of the man whom he called his master (see further Sedley 1989, 1997). It was not considered treason to avail oneself for this purpose of the best thoughts of other teachers: Plutarch wrote a treatise On the [Epicurean Maxim] “Live Unknown”, while Seneca could say of the Stoics, “we are under no king; each offers his own defence” (Letters to Lucilius 4.1.33.4; cf. Rist 1983). Since they meant by hairesis a legitimate choice of one’s own way of life from the rival schools, they would not have understood the contention of Hippolytus that philosophy is the root of every heresy; if they had said, with Tertullian, “what has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” (Indictment of Heretics 7), they would not have meant that nothing can be learned from Jews, but that nothing could be learned in the Jewish manner. To revere what is written simply because it is written was notoriously the way of both the old Israel and the new, but it was not, as Galen protested, the way of a Greek.

Christianity and philosophy in the modern era Tertullian and Hippolytus were by no means the last to stigmatise philosophy as the nurse of error and mother of infidelity. Even Anselm, when he undertakes to prove from first principles not only God’s existence but the necessity of the atonement and the constitution of the Trinity, adds the caveat that he is writing only for the fool who does not believe, as a Christian’s faith requires no paper fortifications (Gasper 2004: 89–124). The church condemned the thesis of the Muslim Averroes that philosophy may lead us to one conclusion and theology to another (Hisette 1977); yet Scotus adopts a similar position, and even Aquinas grants that philosophy offers cogent arguments for the eternity of the world (Cross 2006). His own work helped to rescue Aristotle from the censures under which he had fallen because of his espousal of this and other heretical doctrines; and even thereafter, Aristotle’s dominion over the western mind was always contingent on his being thought to have furnished rational proofs for those things which are taught in scripture. Even before the western reformation, his supremacy was imperilled by the revival of Greek and consequent rediscovery of Plato. It hardly needed Gemistus Pletho to point out that the active role of God in creation, the immortality of the individual and the sufficiency of virtue for happiness even in the present are Christian dogmas which are written on the surface of Plato’s works but can be wrested only with brazen ingenuity from those of Aristotle (Woodhouse 1986: 192–214, 283–307). The coincidence between Plato and the scriptures had the further effect of persuading the reading scholars of Greece and Italy that a close approximation to revealed truth could be achieved by natural reason. While Ficino maintained the superiority of the church’s teaching, Pletho covertly prophesied that Christian and Muslim alike would learn to adopt a higher philosophy, while Pico della Mirandola insinuates in his Oration on the Dignity of Man that the Bible is at best one voice in the universal choir of truth. The Protestant reformers thus had reason to abhor both Plato and Aristotle, the first as an enemy of revelation and the second as the sponsor of a counterfeit marriage between revealed and natural theology. Luther rejects both transubstantiation and the Aristotelian language of its exponents, forgetting perhaps that Aristotle himself would have found all sacramental theology incomprehensible. This is not an appeal from secularising logic to the mystery of the gospel, for there is nothing more mysterious, if we mean by this paradoxical and intractable to reason, than the Latin doctrine of transubstantiation. In his sacramental theology, as in his early defence of Augustinian predestination against the quibblers who refused to derive a consequent necessity from the necessity of the consequent, Luther is the enemy of all paradox that is not based on the plain sense of the gospel. No more than Augustine is he the enemy of reason, so long as it is understood that the lamp of reason is faith and that the pillars of faith are Paul and the 8

Introduction

evangelists, studied in the original Greek. Had the geocentric arrangement of the planets been called into question in his hearing, he would certainly have sided with Aristotle against the Platonism of Nicholas of Cusa and his own disciple Johannes Kepler; but he would have demurred had Galileo’s inquisitors given more weight to their prooftexts from the De Caelo than to Genesis 1.14-15 and Joshua 10.12. Lorenzo Valla’s discovery that the works of Dionysius the Areopagite were pseudonymous (Luibheid 1987: 38–39) delighted Luther because it deprived the papacy of its sole apostolic witness to the sacerdotal character of the priesthood. In the eyes of his 20th-century disciples, the crime of the author was not so much his assumption of a false name as his deft but dishonest permutation of diverse texts from scripture into a system indistinguishable from Platonism; only as neighbour to the school of Proclus did he deserve the title Areopagite, but according to Adolf von Harnack he was by no means the first professing Christian to make his spiritual home in Athens. The apologists were mere deists (1888: 460), and even those who purported, as Origen does, to be on the side of the apostles against the Gnostics were complicit in this substitution of the wisdom of the schools for the Word of God (1888: 571). Arguing a similar thesis, Anders Nygren (1930, 1936) proclaims that Christian agape is a selfless and sacrificial love, which seeks the good of all creatures but itself and is therefore wholly irreconcilable with the eros of the philosophers and their Pharisaic imitators, who cultivate solitary ecstasies in the present world as a foretaste of deliverance from the body in the next. Platonism is thus for both these Lutherans a distemper from which the church has yet to rid itself; they are far from agreeing, however, on the remedy, for Harnack’s Jesus preaches the infinite value of the human soul (1900: 41–45), whereas Nygren, like his admirer Barth, maintains that no creature has any claim to worth except as an object of gratuitous divine love. Their English contemporary Dean Inge (1926: 1–27), perhaps the most zealous Protestant of the four, commends the Platonic strain in Christian thought on the grounds that it teaches us not to rely on lifeless sacraments but to seek the unmediated presence of God, as Luther himself enjoined in full accord with Christ. Philosophy makes common cause with faith as Inge conceives it, whereas for Nygren and Harnack alike it is the antonym of a faith which they define in ways that are equally antonymic to one another. The Roman church, which looks more kindly on natural theology, has endorsed philosophy as a propaedeutic and ancillary to its own teaching, while asserting that there are also many truths which are not discerned without inspiration. So long as its preeminent philosopher is Aquinas, it cannot sever its ties with Greek philosophy, even if there is doubt as to whether the saint is more of a Neoplatonist than an Aristotelian. In the Anglican world, it seems that each new revolution has been hostile to the Greeks, whether the appeal has been made to common sense with Locke, to first principles with Bishop Berkeley, to the catholic tradition with the Tractarians, to the conscience of the nation with Arnold and Kingsley, to the power of the Cross with evangelicalism, to the wholeness of Christ with Lux Mundi, to Heidegger and Hebrew with John Robinson, to an undulant modernity with Don Cupitt or to a gilded pre-modernity with Radical Orthodoxy. Most of these movements are marked by a thoroughly English distaste for otherworldliness, which in recent times has often taken the form of polemic against the Platonic doctrine of transcendence. Whatever Plato himself may have said, this is generally understood as a denial of God’s immanence and his love for his creation, the second of which at least is a biblical doctrine. In certain quarters, Augustine is interchangeable with Plato, and his appeals to scripture are dashed aside in a manner which suggests that detailed exegesis is no more germane than the teaching of the Lyceum or the Academy to the modern standard of Christian belief (see e.g. Gunton 1993: 54–56). Indeed, paradoxical as it may seem, the failure of western Christendom to produce a new system of thought to vie with those of the modern era may be traced to its waning belief in 9

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the authority, or at least the propositional truth, of scripture. Secure in the infallibility of the divine revelation, the Fathers and their mediaeval successors were armed in advance against all philosophical objections to their doctrines of divine freedom, the creation of all from nothing, the minute and pervasive guidance of mundane affairs or the sempiternity of the resurrection. The shaking of these foundations in the 18th century reduced much Anglican and Protestant teaching to a form that was deistic in all but name. Analytical philosophers in our own day have revived the deistic project of deducing from first principles the existence of a deity with all his classical attributes, and some have gone on, in the manner of Bishop Butler, to reason from this conclusion to the necessity, and hence the existence, of just such a revelation as is supposed by Christians to have been vouchsafed in the work of Christ and commemorated in the New Testament (Swinburne 2007). Whether or not it was true of Aquinas or Scotus, it is true of many modern controversialists that (to adapt the words of Macintyre 1990) their apologies for faith are based on reason, in defiance of the Augustinian precept that the basis of all reasoning is faith. Even if such demonstrations have ever induced conviction in anyone but the author, it will not have been the conviction of an Augustine or an Aquinas since this very word implies to them that we are convinced not only of God’s existence but of our absolute dependence on his creative purpose and redemptive love. For them, this dependence entails that we are impotent to overcome either our finitude or our sin, and hence to know our Maker or even to know of him, without some unsolicited condescension on his part. This took the form initially of his speech through the prophets, then of the incarnation of his Word, and finally of that shaping of the first revelation in the light of the second which bequeathed to us that text which we call the written Word of God. Faith is thus essentially, and not accidentally, grounded in the disclosure of the infinite to the finite. Consequently, we cannot preserve Christianity by proceeding from some other ground than revelation once we have found that the scriptures can no longer sustain the claim to infallibility. The rejuvenation of Christian philosophy is not so likely to be achieved by slighting the canonical texts as by embracing those features of them – their obscurity, their inchoateness, their dissonance – which have hitherto been regarded as an obstacle to reasonable belief. What modern admirers are apt to praise in the “Fathers” (as some still call them) is not their metaphysical acumen but their ability to cast speculative reasoning into a form that, however technical it may become, remains at once profoundly devotional and movingly homiletic. The divorce between exegesis and philosophy has brought with it a divorce between ordained and academic ministry, hence between preaching and teaching. Of course it cannot be otherwise, unless we can require our theology faculties once again to shut their doors to Copernicus, Darwin and the higher criticism. At the same time, it is impossible, as David-Friedrich Strauss already saw (1902: 779–784), to proclaim one gospel in the church and another in the auditorium, if only because the ordinary believer is now educated enough to doubt the inerrancy of scripture. Even those who are bold enough to set Holy Writ against science cannot long remain immune to the social changes, and the corresponding changes in domestic and public morality, which have been occasioned by the economic unification of the world, the increasing miscegenation of peoples and the lengthening of life. We cannot restore the patristic age of innocence, when the earth was a mere six thousand years old, the stars revolved around it and every sin under which it groaned could be traced to a single act of theft; we cannot assume that everyone has a god and that those who do not yet worship our God are idolaters who will easily be laughed out of their delusions. We cannot simply retrieve an integration of faith and gnôsis from Clement of Alexandria, any more than we can use his works to justify the creation of a new gnôsis to supersede the historic faith. 10

Introduction

Between mere atavism and the surrender to alien gnôsis is the way of those early Christians who, in a phrase that we are apt to employ too glibly, baptised the teachings of the Academy, the Lyceum and the Stoa (e.g. Rist 1994). Baptism in the early church, for those of a certain age at least, was performed by total immersion, signifying death to sin and rebirth to life in the body of Christ (Romans 6.4). Augustine and Origen might not have objected to expositions of the gospel that were couched in existentialist terminology – all the less so when they learned that the root of existentialism is the Lutheran, or rather Pauline and thoroughly catholic, principle that each of us stands alone in the presence of God – but they would have deplored any version of this philosophy that made us the only judges of our own conduct or appealed to a notion of personal authenticity against the authority of the prophetic word. In their interpretations of this word, they not only borrowed the pagan device of allegory but applied it with a thoroughness and a ramified ingenuity that was never anticipated or imitated by the philosophers of their own era; if the science of hermeneutics has restored the ancient primacy of the text in the 20th century, the theologian’s appropriation of Gadamer and Ricoeur is a second spoiling of the Egyptians, a reminder that there is no Dilthey without Schleiermacher, no Schleiermacher without Augustine. Even postmodernism, grounded as it is in the veneration of the Torah as the surrogate of an absent God, is closer to patristic thought than its converse, the a priori attempt to grasp the signified in the absence of the signifier. Theology in the early church is always exegesis, but exegesis informed by philosophy, which was used with great ingenuity to shield the text from doubt. In the modern world, where doubt can be evaded only by subterfuge, and the questioning of norms has become as much a norm in life as in exegesis, the most fruitful use of philosophy may not to be extinguish scepticism and ambiguity, but to show how they can be welcomed as inseparable concomitants of faith.

Bibliography Cross, R. (2006), “The Eternity of the World and the Distinction Between Creation and Conservation”, Religious Studies 42, 403–416. Downing, F. G. (1993), “Cynics and Christians: Oedipus and Thyestes”, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 44, 1–10. Edwards, M. J. (1989), “Satire and Verisimilitude: Christianity in Lucian’s Peregrinus”, Historia 38, 89–98. Edwards, M. J. (2006), “Gospel and Genre: Some Reservations”, in J. Mossman and B. McGing (eds.), The Limits of Ancient Biography, Swansea: Classical Press of Wales, 51–62. Edwards, M. J. (2009), “Early Christianity and Philosophy”, in J. Bingham (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Early Christian Thought, London: Routledge, 38–50. Frede, M. (2006), “The Early Christian Reception of Socrates”, in L. Judson (ed.), Remembering Socrates, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 188–202. Gasper, G. E. M. (2004), Anselm of Canterbury and His Theological Inheritance, London: Routledge. Gathercole, S. (2017), “Christians According to Second-Century Philosophers”, in Religio-Phiosophical Discourses in the Mediterranean World, Leiden: Brill, 279–305. Grant, R. M. (1988), Greek Apologists of the Second Century, London: SCM Press. Gunton, C. (1993), The One, the Three and the Many, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hadot, P. (1995), Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault, Oxford: Wiley Blackwell. Harnack, A. von (1888), Lehrbuch der Dogmenegeschichte, 1 vol., Freiburg: Mohr Siebeck. Harnack, A. von (1900), Das Wesen des Christentums, Leipzig: Hinrichs. Hisette, R. (1977), Enquête sur les 219 articles condamnés à Paris le 7 mars 1277, Louvain: University of Louvain. Inge, W. R. (1926), The Platonic Tradition in English Religious Thought, London: Longmans. Karamanolis, G. (2014), The Philosophy of Early Christianity, London: Routledge. 11

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Luibheid, C. (trans.). (1987), Pseudo-Dionysius: The Complete Works, Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press. Macintyre, A. (1990), Three Rival Versions of Moral Inquiry, London: Duckworth. Martens (2015), “Embodiment, Heresy and the Hellenization of Christianity”, Harvard Theological Review 108, 594–620. Martens, P. W. (2019), “Response to Edwards”, Zeitschrift fur Antikes Christentum 23, 186–200. Nietzsche, F. W. (1870/1973), “Die Florentinische Tractat über Homer und Hesiod, ihr Geschlecht und ihren Wettkampf ”, Rheinisches Museum für Philologie 25, 528–540; 28, 211–249. Nock, A. D. (1933), Conversion: The New and the Old in Religion from Alexander the Great to Augustine of Hippo, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Nygren, A. (1930/1936), Eros and Agape, London: SPCK. Rist, J. M. (1983), “Are You a Stoic? The Case of Marcus Aurelius”, in E. P. Sanders and B. F. Meyer (eds.), Jewish and Christian Self-definition, 3 vols., London: SCM, 23–45. Rist, J. M. (1994), Augustine: Ancient Thought Baptized, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Schibli, H. S. (1992), “Origen, Didymus and the Vehicle of the Soul”, in R. J. Daly (ed.), Origeniana Quinta, Louvain: Peeters, 381–391. Sedley, D. (1989), “Philosophical Allegiance in the Greco-Roman World”, in M. T. Griffin and J. Barnes (eds.), Philosophia Togata, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 97–119. Sedley, D. (1997), “Plato’s Auctoritas and the Rebirth of the Commentary Tradition”, in J. Barnes and M. T. Griffin (eds.), Philosophia Togata II: Plato and Aristotle at Rome, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 110–129. Strauss, D. S. (1902), Life of Jesus, George Eliot (trans.), 4th ed., London: Swan Sonnenschein. Swinburne, R. (2007), Revelation: From Metaphor to Analogy, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Szymańska-Kuta, D. (2015), “The Soul-Body Compound in Didymus the Blind’s Commentary on Genesis and Its Neoplatonic Background”, Studia Religiologica 48, 271–289. Woodhouse, C. M. (1986), George Gemistus Plethon: The Last of the Hellenes, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

12

Section 1

Themes

2 Sources of religious knowledge Peter Van Nuffelen

Introduction For a long time, clear lines of demarcation tended to be drawn between religion and philosophy in the ancient world. Ancient religion was said to be primarily defined by practice and not by belief. What mattered was participation in ritual, not whether one believed or not in the existence of the gods who were being worshipped (Scheid 2016). Philosophy, by contrast, was understood as the rational pursuit of knowledge to the exclusion of religious tutelage. Consequently, interest by the educated elite and philosophers in the “supernatural”, such as dreams and oracles, was deemed a turn towards the irrational. Such interests become very visible from the first century A.D. onwards, a period famously judged to be an “age of anxiety” by E.R. Dodds (1965). Against such a background, Christianity appears as one symptom of such anxiety and understood to be relying on revelation and sacred texts which it demanded its followers to believe whilst polemically and abusively claiming for itself the title of philosophy. Most of the elements of this story have been nuanced and revised. Scholars have drawn attention to the much greater interplay or even lack of differentiation between early philosophical and religious discourses (Tor 2017). The identification of the distinction between practice and belief with that between Greco-Roman religion and Christianity has been called into question (Versnel 2011). The age of anxiety is vanishing, and scholars take the intellectual interest in religion seriously. On the one hand, cults start to draw on philosophical conceptions in the formulation of their myths and ideas, a process that has been labelled “la philosophisation du religieux” by P. Athanassiadi and C. Macris (2013). On the other, philosophers start to interpret religious traditions as containing philosophical knowledge, which was deposited there by wise men of old. This allows philosophers to use religious traditions as sources of knowledge. In addition, the greater emphasis on the transcendental nature of the supreme being in Neoplatonism goes hand in hand with a greater awareness of the limitations of language, and thus the adoption of silence, enigmatic language and other non-discursive means to talk about the One. In the light of this new body of scholarship, the older account is shown to be too indebted to dichotomies (rationality/irrationality, ritual/belief) that are rooted in modern assumptions about the nature of philosophy and religion.

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As the preceding sketch shows, the sources of knowledge have played an important role in putting a particular thinker on either side of the divide. When the old narrative is rejected, we appreciate better the variety of sources used in philosophical reflection of the imperial period by Christian and non-Christian thinkers alike. Indeed, this chapter argues that we can understand Christian thinkers as adopting and adapting views current in imperial philosophy. Before we survey the various sources of religious knowledge, a few preliminary remarks are needed. First, by “religious knowledge” I mean knowledge about the divine and not a particularly “religious” form of knowledge, if that were to exist. Second, my approach is formal and not substantial. I am interested in the sources of knowledge that philosophers themselves indicate, which does not need to imply that their thought was actually shaped by them. For example, when Plutarch finds philosophical knowledge in the cult of Isis, I take the cult of Isis to be a source of knowledge, even though it is doubtful if it had any real impact on his metaphysics. Third, sources of knowledge are rarely simply used, but normally accompanied by a discourse that justifies why they can be used and on what condition. In order to read a text metaphorically, one needs to justify that it can be read in that way and that meaning can be found under the surface. In addition, not everyone is capable of doing so. Thus, identifications of sources presuppose narratives (about how it comes about that a source is a source) and epistemologies (the conditions for being able to access the knowledge).

Tradition and community In his treatise On the Holy Spirit, Basil of Caesarea makes a distinction between kerygmata and dogmata. The first are based on the Scriptures, whilst the second is the tradition of the Apostles and the Church. Both have, so Basil states, the same authority, for many practices in the liturgy do not have a scriptural origin. To give but one example, “who has taught us in writing to sign with the sign of the cross those who have trusted in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ?” Basil then uses mystery language to emphasise the importance of the dogmata: In the same manner the Apostles and Fathers who laid down laws for the Church from the beginning thus guarded the awful dignity of the mysteries in secrecy and silence, for what is bruited abroad random among the common folk is no mystery at all. This is the reason for our tradition of unwritten precepts and practices, that the knowledge of our dogmas may not become neglected and contemned by the multitude through familiarity. (On the Holy Spirit 27.66, tr. NPNF ) Dogmata are surrounded by mystery in another sense: when Scripture refers to them, it is through veiled language. The distinction and vocabulary used by Basil find their roots in the polemical context of the treatise. He seeks to respond to a claim by his Macedonian adversaries that Nicene Christians introduce theological ideas without a foundation in Scripture. If the argument thus has a particular slant, it is built out of ideas current in earlier and later Christian authors and ties in with similar ideas in Greco-Roman philosophy. In a later section, we shall discuss Scripture, but here I wish to sketch the background to Basil’s appeal to dogmata, highlighting how it is found in other Christian texts and how it is rooted in imperial philosophy. The idea that the correct Christian teachings are transmitted through the Apostles and their successors develops the self-presentation of Paul in his letters and is present in the earliest Christian writings after the New Testament, the Apostolic Fathers. It has many forms in patristic texts, such as the emphasis on episcopal succession in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, from the Apostles until his own day, and the recurrence of writings that present themselves as handing 16

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down the teachings of the Apostles (e.g. the first-century Didache or Teachings of the Twelve Apostles). In the fourth century, we see the argumentative recourse to Fathers of the Church develop, by which positions are justified with reference to figures of authority – the origin of our concept of patristics. From the fifth century, citations from earlier Church Fathers are a crucial element in most debates, and we see the production of excerpt collections that gather proof texts. Such debates often include source criticism to establish if a citation is truly by a particular Church Father and really says what it seems to say (Graumann 2002). Yet emphasis on tradition in Christian texts is not simply a matter of tracing teachings back to Scripture and Apostolic tradition. Indeed, Christian thinkers understand Christianity as a renewal of the covenant that God concluded with the Hebrews. The Biblical patriarchs can, then, be understood as proto-Christians, and later Judaism as a degeneration of the original insights, with Christianity as their restoration. Such ideas are, for example, prominent in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Demonstration of the Gospel. They manifest themselves too in the argument that pagan philosophy essentially depended on Hebrew (and thus Christian) thought, which chronologically preceded them (e.g. Tertullian, Apology 47; Justin, 1 Apology 44; cf. Boys-Stones 2001: 176–202). Indeed, one of the aims of Eusebius’ Chronicle was precisely to provide historical proof for such seniority. Such claims to antiquity remain inadequately characterised if understood merely as reflections of the importance tradition had in ancient culture or as the normal outcome of the Christian appropriation of Hebrew Scripture. They reflect, in fact, how Christian authors engaged closely with the historical narrative that underpinned much philosophical thinking of the imperial period (Boys-Stones 2001; Van Nuffelen 2011). The basic idea was that earliest mankind had been able to discern the fundamental truths about the world. In the absence of a philosophical language, their insights were transmitted in other expressions, such as religious ritual, but also poetry, name-giving and art. Such a narrative helps to explain why texts but also other cultural products, including statues of gods, can be interpreted symbolically and allegorically as containing philosophical insights. Much is lost in transmission, and very few of the original insights have therefore been preserved without alteration. Transmission through time ran, as everything human, the risk of causing misrepresentation – in sum, degeneracy of the original truths. What great philosophers, such as Plato, did, was to rediscover the original wisdom and purify the extant traditions. Golden chains of philosophers, like the one linking Pythagoras, Socrates and Plato through to the second-century Platonist Numenius, were constructed, often linking these to wise poets and authoritative texts, such as Homer, Orpheus and the Chaldean oracles (e.g. Plotinus, Enneads 5.1.8.10; Proclus, On the Timaeus 2.82.3–20). One of the few places where truth had been transmitted more faithfully were mystery cults, where the truth had been guarded by the commandment of mystical silence – a depiction also used by Christian thinkers (Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis 5.21; Basil of Caesarea in the earlier example). Conversely, the polemic of Christian apologists and the Jew Philo of Alexandria against mystery cults as places of sin and untruth (Special Laws 1.319–323) has less to do with what actually happened there than with the fact that mystery cults had such a particular status in philosophical discourse. Degeneracy even affected philosophy itself, which had split into schools combatting each other. Disagreement was, indeed, often interpreted as a sign of the absence of truth, as in the satirical representation of Lucian’s Icaromenippus. Philosophers were willing to admit that other schools and philosophers might have noticed some elements of truth – the Platonist Plutarch, for example, is willing to grant Stoicism some correct insights – but tended to present themselves as having rediscovered the original truths. Similarly, Christian thinkers can find elements of truth in Greco-Roman traditions. Justin Martyr, for example, constructs layers of authority 17

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in his Dialogue with Trypho, whereby Platonism is ranked highest, but still way below Christianity. By seeing human traditions as degenerations from a single truth, it is possible to locate different schools at different distances from the truth. Two criteria to assess the truthfulness of a tradition recur throughout imperial and late antique philosophy: internal coherence within the tradition, on the one hand, and its continuity, on the other. Unsurprisingly, Celsus, the second-century critic of Christianity, noted that Christianity was defective in both respects: Christianity was torn apart by different sects, and it was two steps removed from a truthful tradition, being an offshoot of Judaism that was, in turn, an offshoot of the Egyptian tradition (Origen, Against Celsus 1.14). Christian authors could easily turn the tables and highlight the disagreement of philosophical schools to discredit their claim to the truth, for which they only needed to recycle the arguments that the philosophical schools had addressed to each other. To ward off the accusations, Christian thinkers developed a strong notion of heresy and orthodoxy, singling out the strands of Christianity that had deviated from the original truth. These notions, now often understood as the intellectual manifestations of attempts to maintain social authority, thus have deep roots in the intellectual environment of the imperial period and are closely linked to Christianity’s potential to produce a convincing narrative of its own truthfulness in the intellectual terms demanded by imperial philosophy (Boys-Stones 2001: 151–175). In turn, this forged the notion of the Church as a guardian of truthful tradition: the Church is the community that guards and transmits the correct tradition. Coherence and tradition was not demanded just of philosophy, but also of religious practice, as the following example shows. Augustine’s treatise On True Religion (ca. 390) purports to bring his friend Romanianus, who had converted to Manichaeism with Augustine, back into the Christian fold. The preface argues that the Catholic Church represents the true religion, especially in contrast with paganism: In this the error of those peoples who have preferred to worship many gods rather than the one true God and Lord of all, is most clearly understood, namely that their sages, whom they call philosophers, disagreed in the school of philosophy but shared their temples. Every philosopher had his own view on the nature of the gods and tried to convince the others, so the argument runs, but together with his adversaries he attended the same cult. This contradictory intellectual attitude is compounded with a social distinction: “In matters of religion, they acknowledged different truths with the people, and they defended different positions, with that same people present, in their own name”. Underlying Augustine’s critique is a demand of coherence: religious practice and metaphysics should accord, as should the opinions of the masses and the “intellectuals”. Of course, Augustine is aware of the counterargument that Christianity itself is pluralistic, given its many sects. He counters it by introducing the notion of orthodoxy. Again affirming as an axiom that there should be no disagreement between philosophy and religion, he states that “those whose doctrine we do not approve of, do not share the sacraments with us”. Contrary to ancient philosophy, marked by a disagreement between the various schools, Christianity excludes those who refuse to accept the truth. So far I have argued that the recourse to tradition is to be understood against the background of, on the one hand, a historical narrative about the origins of truth and, on the other, the requirements of coherence and tradition that such a narrative imposed on those claiming to possess that truth. Yet there is another, epistemological dimension to the idea that truth is a matter of tradition, namely that an individual can hardly acquire the truth on his own. Intuitively, modern individuals tend to oppose tradition and truth, identifying the former with uncritical acceptance of other people’s views and understanding the latter as the product 18

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of individual, rational recognition of what is the case. Leaving aside the questionable merits of such an opposition, it suffices to note that in antiquity, following a teacher was judged necessary in order to progress towards the truth. To give an example from a Christian text, Clement of Alexandria justified the idea in two ways. First, everybody has preconceptions strengthened by habit that may be an obstacle to seeing the truth, but it is hard to get rid of those on your own (Clement, Exhortation 4). A teacher helps to remove such obstacles. And, second, one cannot acquire knowledge without a preconception of what one wishes to know. Without the acquisition of such a preliminary notion, one cannot start the learning. The acquisition of knowledge presupposes the act of entrusting oneself to a teacher who is trusted. Hence faith is needed, whereby faith implies the entry into a community that is accepted to preserve truth. Variations of such ideas can be traced from the Pre-Nicene Fathers to Augustine and beyond (Theophilus, To Autolycus 1.8.1; Augustine, On the Utility of Believing; cf. Morgan 2015). Teaching implies thus not just demonstrating the truth but also overcoming the pupil’s emotional attachments to falsehood. This is not a matter of submission to a truth simply imposed on the listener; rather, the process of learning presupposes a willingness to learn from someone who seems to represent knowledge. It is a leap of faith that can only be confirmed once one has developed the insight that what he teaches is indeed correct – or wrong, as Augustine’s own exploration of Platonism and Manichaeism illustrates. Indeed, a maxim of ancient and patristic thought is that one cannot be forced to believe the truth: full assent to a proposition is always a free act, based on the rational insight that that proposition is indeed correct (Kobusch 2018: 116). As much as the notion of an orthodox community is the social manifestation of the importance of tradition for truth claims, the ubiquitous importance of debates in Late Antiquity is the social reflection of an epistemology that sees truth as an objective reality to which rational individuals will freely assent (Perrin 2017; Van Nuffelen 2018).

Oracles, prophecy and revelation In this section, I discuss three related forms of knowledge given to men by the divine. In most religious systems, the divine communicates with man. Greco-Roman religion knew numerous forms of such communication, ranging from divination (whereby one had to interpret signs from birds, sacrificial victims, uncommon events etc.) to oracles, whereby a god actually delivered a message in language through a medium. Oracles were usually linked to a particular cult centre, such as Delphi. The priest transmitting oracles was called prophetes in Greek. “Prophet” is now commonly used in a different sense, namely to refer to individuals who are inspired by the divine and transmit its message. Such individuals were known in classical antiquity, with the mythical Tiresias as the archetype. Prophecy in this sense was not institutionalised, and prophets needed to be recognised as being divinely inspired. The regular doubts expressed by Greek and Latin sources regarding the honesty of a prophet and the authenticity of his or her message find a parallel in the New Testament warning about false prophets (Matthew 7.15-20). The problem could only be solved by hindsight and institutionalisation: prophets and prophecies included in the Old Testament were considered truthful, whereas contemporary claims to prophecy were regarded with suspicion, as the controversy about Montanism (a Christian movement that accepted new prophets at the end of the second century) reminds us. Inspiration was, however, not the only explanation for prophecy. If one accepted a form of causal determinism, one could argue that a prophet was simply better at foreseeing the consequences of certain events. Some Christian authors use that idea to establish a fundamental difference between pagan and Christian forms of foretelling the 19

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future: the former relies on insights in causal mechanisms, possibly transmitted to man by demons, whilst the latter is truly helped by God and thus able to predict things that go beyond causal relations. The third term this section deals with, revelation, is central to Christianity and may, for that reason, lead to confusion. Revelation can be used by scholars in the broad sense to indicate the nature of the knowledge transmitted in oracles and prophecies. In that sense, revelation is a term applicable to all religions (Hadot 1987). Revelation is also often used as a generic appellation, derived from the Apocalypse of John (the term apokalypsis literally means revelation), for a type of text in which an individual is given knowledge of things that are normally hidden (about the world, past or future, and/or mankind) in dreams, visions and ecstatic experiences. Scholarship tends to associate such texts with moments of crisis, but they can also be understood as a particular literary form taken by the claim to prophecy. Finally, in modern discourse, revelation usually functions as the antithesis of rational discourse. A strong emphasis on Christianity as a revealed religion is the product of the strong dichotomies between reason and irrationality with which the history of religion in the Roman Empire tended to be written. Indeed, Enlightenment discourse constructed rationality in such a way that authority is its very opposite, and revelation can then only appear as the supreme form of authority (Gadamer 1972, vol. i: 284). In turn, when Christian theology accepted that science had, in a way, closed the book of nature and that knowledge of nature was not a road to knowledge of God, a strong notion of revelation became needed to allow mankind to access God at all. The opposition is, in fact, not helpful for antiquity. The opposition does not work for Greek thought (Tor 2017: 12–19), and a distinct theology of revelation in opposition to philosophy only exists since the thirteenth century (Kobusch 2018: 8). As we shall see, on the one hand, recourse to oracles and prophecies is important in later Greek philosophy too. On the other hand, in Christian texts prophecy is never irrationally accepted without reflection, for prophecy needs interpretation and verification. These three types share that there is direct communication between god and man, almost always through written mediation, as oracles and prophecies were usually transmitted in written collections. Few philosophical arguments were built on direct experience of the divine, even if the union of the soul with the One was the aim of Neoplatonic philosophy. Of all philosophical schools, Platonism, especially Neoplatonism, is the one school that was most open to accepting oracles as a source of philosophical knowledge (Edwards 2006: 111–126). The symbol of this is the high status ascribed to the Chaldaean oracles, a now-fragmentary collection of insights received by a certain Julian in the second century A.D. and used as an authoritative text especially by Iamblichus and Proclus. Porphyry composed a work entitled Philosophy from Oracles, in which mainly Delphic oracles were explained as revealing philosophical tenets. Hierocles of Alexandria (fl. A.D. 430) composed a commentary on the Golden Verses ascribed to Pythagoras, treating them as a preparatory text revealing the same philosophical insights as Plato had formulated. Hierocles justifies such a reading with an account of history similar to the discourse of ancient wisdom that we have sketched in the previous section. The Pythagoreans are depicted as standing at the origins, with Plato as a Pythagorean who rediscovers their thought (On the Golden Verses, pr., pp. 5–7). Indeed, the idea that the knowledge found in religion goes back to primitive wise men can be traced in Neoplatonist authors (Johnson 2013: 168–170). Yet next to such accounts, we find in Neoplatonist texts an emphasis on revelation: the Chaldean oracles rely on insights received from God, and Porphyry also speaks of revelation (Philosophy from Oracles F317–319). Neoplatonism thus also espouses a theory of inspiration: the truthfulness of oracles and prophecies is assured by the fact that their creators participate in the logos when uttering or receiving them. 20

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The increased importance of divine communication in Neoplatonism is also visible in theurgy, the reinterpretation of religious rites, often but not exclusively associated with the Chaldaean oracles, as actions by the gods that help the soul ascend to the One. Such rituals create direct contact between man and the divine. They are thus not just ways of worshipping the gods, but also occasions of real divine presence (Tanaseanu-Döbler 2013). Two elements condition the rise of theurgy from the fourth century onwards. On the one hand, man is now seen as unable to perform the ascent to the One entirely by himself through contemplation, as Plotinus still proposed. Theurgy creates, as it were, occasions for divine help. On the other, theurgy provides an answer to the criticism that Greco-Roman religion is not a truthful religion. There was a long-standing tradition of criticism by Greeks and Romans on their own oracles, myths and rituals, which was drawn upon by Christian polemic. Spelling out the conditions on which rituals were really effective and separating a particular kind of ritual out from the rest helped identify a truthful core in Greco-Roman religion. It has been argued that Porphyry’s emphasis on oracles as a source of knowledge was a means to answer Christian claims that the Bible had revealed the truth (Busine 2005: 294). This may be the case, but it is important to see that Neoplatonist and Christian appeals to oracles and prophecy partake in the same culture and reveal shared presuppositions. Both shared an increasing emphasis on the transcendence of the divine, identified with the highest metaphysical principle. This rendered revelation and mediation (in Christianity through Christ) necessary to avoid an unbridgeable gap being created between man and God (cf. Boys-Stones 2009: 19–21). With the corpus of Old Testament prophets, Christianity inherited a clear delineated sense of prophecy, even if the terms “oracle” and “prophecy” could be extended to the whole Bible. For Christian authors, two problems presented themselves in respect to this corpus. Towards pagans it needed to be demonstrated that it contained true prophecies. Jews would accept that idea, but for them Christians did not offer a correct interpretation of their meaning. Against both types of scepticism, the same argument could be brought, namely that the prophecies had come true. This implied, mostly, showing how the Old Testament had predicted the life of Christ and his teachings through typological readings – developing, in fact, the interpretation of Christ already present in the Gospels. The other traditional argument was to emphasise the agreement of the prophecies (cf. Justin, Dialogue with Trypho 17; Theophilus of Antioch, To Autolycus 3.17). Once a text was established to be prophetic, it could be subjected to deeper ways of reading than ordinary texts, especially forms of allegorical and typological reading (Young 1997; Dawson 2002). In line with the epistemology sketched previously, the possibility of correctly interpreting a prophetic text was closely linked to the disposition of the individual. Clement of Alexandria used mystery cults and their purification of initiates as a symbol to signal that one needed purity in order to be able to understand the truth (Stromateis 1.13, 1.5). Origen demands meditation and prayer as preparation for interpretation of the Bible (Origen, Letter to Gregory Thaumaturgus =  Philokalia 13.4). Emphasis on faith as a precondition for progress in interpreting Scripture is common. To a modern intellectualist understanding and a common interpretation of Christianity as a religion of faith, such ideas risk immunising interpretations from criticism, for it seems that one has to believe first before one can actually start interpreting. If that risk exists, such an interpretation fails to understand the concept of philosophy present in the background. For Christian thinkers as much as for their Greco-Roman counterparts, philosophy (and thus Christianity) was a way of life and not just an intellectual endeavour. Concepts and theory served to shape practice (Hadot 1996). Theory and practice do not stand in a hierarchical relationship whereby theory shapes practice. Rather, practice and theory form a hermeneutical circle: a correct understanding influences one’s disposition. and one’s disposition shapes 21

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understanding. Man is not an unwritten sheet that simply needs to see reason, but is, when he starts philosophising, already affected by convictions and emotions. Indeed, the pagan Salutius opens his treatise on the gods (middle of the fourth century) by stipulating that in order for one to learn about the gods, one needs an excellent education from one’s youth onwards and to be good and intelligent, so as to have something in common with the subject of study (On the Gods and the World 1). For Salutius, not all are capable of understanding the gods. In contrast, Porphyry situates in one passage belief at the very end of the ascent to the Good, it being the attitude of giving oneself over to the Good (To Marcella 24.5). T. Kobusch (2018: 127) argues that for Neoplatonists, belief completes the movement of knowledge, whereas in Christianity belief is located at beginning. Christianity’s emphasis on faith as a starting point can, in fact, be understood as the counterpart of the elitist ideas of Salutius and the like – even if Christian groups could also assume an elitist position (e.g. Authentikos logos NHC VI,3 pp. 33.4–34.32). Whereas it is common in Greco-Roman thought to accept that not all can acquire full insight, Christianity understands its message as directed to all, knowing however that not everybody can grasp immediately the central tenets of the faith – hence the emphasis on initial confidence (faith) in the Church and the emphasis on teaching (catechesis) for those who have taken the step. Such a position does not immunise against rational argument, but rather creates the conditions for rational argument to take shape. Indeed, if there were some Christian groups who professed mere belief and excluded rational examination (Origen, Against Celsus 1.9), belief and knowledge were seen as needing each other (Kobusch 2018: 125). Indeed, as the Book of the Laws of the Countries (542) stated it: I cannot believe if I am not convinced.

Philosophy, nature and the inner self As we have shown earlier, debates about the value of traditions were embedded in a discourse about the origins of knowledge and how later traditions kept close to, deviated from or recovered that original knowledge. Christianity’s attitude towards Greco-Roman philosophy was shaped by that narrative. As we have seen, it was argued that Moses (as author of the Pentateuch) preceded Greco-Roman philosophy and that the latter depended on the former (Karamanolis 2013: 45). Especially the apologists presented Christianity as the best school of philosophy, as the tradition that had maintained and recovered the original truths, in a move that can be traced in Philo of Alexandria too, in the attitude of philosophers like Plutarch towards other schools, and in Celsus’ critique of Christianity (Löhr 2010). With Greco-Roman philosophy thus characterised as a degeneracy of the original insights, its relationship with Christianity could be configured in various ways. Tertullian’s famous question what Athens has to do with Jerusalem relies on the identification of Greek philosophy as a source of deviation, disagreement and dispute. Its influence on Christianity thus risks causing heresy (On the Prescription of Heretics 7). The opposition is here not simply that between reason (Athens) and belief (Jerusalem); rather, the argument seeks to point out which community stands in the agelong tradition of truth. For that purpose, philosophy, identified as a Greco-Roman tradition, receives a blanket condemnation. More positive attitudes rely on the same ideas. Clement of Alexandria is willing to set Pythagoras and the Old Testament prophets in parallel (Stromateis 5.5.41–44, see also 1.18, 1.28, 1.32.4, 1.97), and Origen recognises that Greek philosophy has acquired correct yet incomplete insights, for without Christianity, nobody would know of Holy Spirit (Origen, On First Principles 1.3.1). Similar ideas can be found later, for example in Gregory of Nyssa’s On the Soul, which judges Greek philosophy by its ability to agree with Scripture, which is similar to the way Greek philosophers judged the achievements of other schools – namely the extent to which their ideas agreed with their 22

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own. Again it is important not to take Tertullian and Origen as representing two fundamentally different positions; rather, both are rooted in the same understanding of the history of philosophy. From the philosophical tradition, Christian thinkers inherited two sources of knowledge, nature and the inner self. The cosmological argument was old and can be traced to Plato and the Stoics (Boys-Stones 2009: 8): it argued that the order of the world demonstrates that a divine mind or soul is its cause. Christian authors also drew on that tradition. For the exegete called Ambrosiaster, natural law, Moses and creation all offered the same evidence (Commentary on Romans 5.13). Theoderet of Cyr’s sermons on providence develops its argument starting from the way the world functions. Nature could also be a normative source: it was not uncommon to argue that the hierarchical makeup of the world (man/angels or demons/God) should be reflected in the hierarchical structure of society (Van Nuffelen 2011). Besides nature, the second road to knowledge of God is the inner self. By turning inwards and paying attention to one’s soul, one could discover the presence and principles of the divine (Kobusch 2018: 254–263). For example, drawing on Stoic ideas, Origen appeals to the presence of “common notions” (koinai ennoiai) written in everybody’s mind (in Philocalia 9.2), and Justin Martyr speaks of seeds of reason planted everywhere (1 Apology 44.10). Both roads to God, the internal and external, were linked, as the soul was seen as the mirror of the cosmos (Edwards 2006: 106).

Scripture Earlier we have touched upon Scripture, noticing how proof was given for the truthfulness of the prophecies and how interpretation was linked to the character of the interpreter. Here I wish to return briefly to the status of Scripture. Scripture is obviously the source of knowledge most commonly referred to and the most authoritative one, as the quotation from Basil of Caesarea, with which we opened the chapter, illustrates. The recourse to Scripture is often deemed a specificity for the traditions with a Jewish inheritance, as the term “religions of the book” shows. As such, these are often opposed to Greco-Roman religion (which is said not to have authoritative books) and to Greek philosophy (which is depicted as an enterprise of reason). If the status of Scripture in Christianity is indeed unmatched, it is not entirely without parallel in Greco-Roman tradition. Historians of Greco-Roman philosophy have noticed that an important change in dealing with philosophical traditions occurred in the last century B.C. In particular, the founders of schools like Plato and Aristotle were elevated to positions of doctrinal authority, that is, they were not mere maîtres à penser but had expounded the correct doctrines. In addition, as we have seen, they were understood to have recovered primitive wisdom, thus giving their thought not just logical but also temporal priority. Philosophy therefore meant exegesis of their texts. Unsurprisingly, then, from the first century B.C. onwards, authoritative editions were published of the works of Plato, Aristotle and Zeno of Citium, and commentaries and handbooks written. As stated by M. Trapp, one “was expected to defer – on pain of incomprehension and contempt – to an authoritative past history of philosophical endeavour and achievement” (2007: 13). Philosophical schools can, then, be described as textual communities, within which canons developed of, for example, the most authoritative of Plato’s dialogues (Boys-Stones 2018: 54–55). In turn, some religious groups did rely on authoritative texts and/or stories, such as Orphism, and these were now integrated into philosophical discourse. Indeed, the first century B.C. is also the moment when in Republican Rome authors, usually inspired by philosophy, start writing about Roman religion, producing texts like Varro’s Antiquities that would become points of reference later (MacRae 2016). 23

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The parallels in outlook between Christianity and Greco-Roman philosophy were sometimes perceived by patristic texts themselves. Justin Martyr, for example, parallels Scripture and Greek myth (First Apology 53). Comparisons between Moses and Plato derive from the representation of Plato as an inspired thinker. We notice also similar issues arising in Christianity and Greco-Roman philosophy regarding the way one should interpret authoritative texts. Assuming that Plato is always right, it was debated whether a literal or metaphorical interpretation is most appropriate, and it was common for an interpretation to work its way from lexical and stylistic matters up towards philosophical issues (Boys-Stones 2018: 51–52, 61–63), approaches that can be easily paralleled in Christian exegesis. As noticed earlier, allegorical interpretation was only deemed possible of authoritative texts, meaning that authority was first to be defended or to be assumed before successful interpretation could then effectively demonstrate that the text was indeed authoritative. Meaningful interpretation was embedded in a tradition and a community, which had acquired correct principles to understand a text, rendering it necessary that a novice be introduced step by step. For Christians, Scripture was to be interpreted in the light of the “rule of faith”, that is, the traditions of teaching and understanding within the Church (Ayres 2009: 79–84). As the evolution of late antique theology shows, this left still much room for diverging interpretations. Christians inherited Scripture from the Jews, but the way they dealt with it was heavily influenced by Greco-Roman philosophy. How close both could be is visible in the fact that pagan criticism of Scripture focussed on the possibility that the Bible could be an inspired and hence authoritative text and thus be subjected to philosophical exegesis, but not on the fact that texts containing a higher meaning could exist (Cook 2004). Even so, in contrast to Greco-Roman culture, Christian Scripture did not tolerate competition from other inspired texts. As was put by Irenaeus of Lyons (3.18.6), the history of God’s engagement with men is summed up in Christ, that is, in the incarnation of God himself. Revelation achieved its summit and end in Christ, of which the New Testament bore witness. Christian Scripture is thus not merely the sum of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, but the product of a narrative, which interpreted the Old Testament as the story building up towards the incarnation. As the story of God’s presence among men, the New Testament could claim unrivalled status. Nevertheless, it would take several centuries before the Biblical corpus was defined and canonised, and throughout Christian history, there remained variations between the various versions of Scripture, both in terms of what books were included but also differences in content between the same book in different languages. The human was always present in divine revelation.

Conclusion In Platonic Theology 1.4, Proclus distinguishes between those who write about the divine by way of hints from those who speak openly. The former group is again divided into two: those who use symbols, like the Orphists, and those who speak by images, like the Pythagoreans. The latter group also contains two types of individuals: people like Plato, who speak according to science, and divinely inspired authors. As this chapter has shown, such catalogues of sources of religious knowledge are built on assumptions about tradition and authority  – in this case, a tradition culminating in Plato and recovered by the authoritative predecessors of Proclus. Implicitly, the passage also assumes the existence of an authoritative interpreter, who has the necessary virtue and knowledge to interpret these four types of information. This chapter has charted the main sources of religious knowledge and narratives that supported the identification of such sources. It has argued that Christian thinkers were part of the intellectual culture in which these narratives flourished and that they used them, both to frame their own thought and to criticise 24

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Greco-Roman philosophy. Indeed, as much as Christianity was part of Greco-Roman culture, it also understood itself to be different, which in this context is most visible in polemic against Greco-Roman philosophy with the tools offered by that philosophy. It claimed for itself the Jewish heritage and understood itself as aimed at all men and to be the guardian of the ultimate revelation. Such differences played out, however, within an intellectual and cultural context that was shared between Christians and non-Christians alike.

Bibliography Athanassiadi, Polymnia and Constantin Macris (2013), “La philosophisation du religieux”, in Laurent Bricault and Corinne Bonnet (eds.), Panthée: Religious Transformations in the Roman Empire, Leiden: Brill, 41–84. Ayres, Lewis (2009), Nicaea and Its Legacy: An Approach to Fourth-Century Trinitarian Theology, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Boys-Stones, G. R. (2001), Post-Hellenistic Philosophy: A Study of Its Development from the Stoics to Origen, Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. Boys-Stones, G. R. (2009), “Ancient Philosophy of Religion: An Introduction”, in Graham Oppy and N. N. Trakakis (eds.), The History of Western Philosophy of Religion. Volume 1: Ancient Philosophy of Religion, Durham: Acumen, 1–22. Boys-Stones, G. R. (2018), Platonist Philosophy 80 BC to AD 250: An Introduction and Collection of Sources in Translation, Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. Busine, Aude (2005), Paroles d”Apollon: pratiques et traditions oraculaires dans l”Antiquité tardive, IIe-VIe siècle: Religions in the Graeco-Roman World, Leiden: Brill, 156. Cook, John Granger (2004), The Interpretation of the Old Testament in Greco-Roman Paganism, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. Dawson, David (2002), Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity, Berkeley, CA; London: University of California Press. Dodds, E. R. (1965), Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety: Some Aspects of Religious Experience from Marcus Aurelius to Constantine, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Edwards, Mark J. (2006), Culture and Philosophy in the Age of Plotinus: Classical Literature and Society, London: Duckworth. Gadamer, Hans-Georg (1972), Wahrheit und Methode: Grundzüge einer philosopshischen Hermeneutik, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. Graumann, Thomas (2002), Die Kirche der Väter: Vätertheologie und Väterbeweis in den Kirchen des Ostens bis zum Konzil von Ephesus (431), Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. Hadot, Pierre (1987), “Théologie, exégèse, révélation, écriture, dans la philosophie grecque”, in Michel Tardieu (ed.), Les règles de l”interprétation, Paris: Cerf, 13–34. Hadot, Pierre (1996), Qu”est-ce que la philosophie antique? Paris: Gallimard. Johnson, Aaron P. (2013), Religion and Identity in Porphyry of Tyre: The Limits of Hellenism in Late Antiquity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Karamanolis, George (2013), The Philosophy of Early Christianity, Durham: Acumen. Kobusch, Theo (2018), Selbstwerdung und Personalität: Spätantike Philosophie und Ihr Einfluss auf die Moderne, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. Kooten, van George H. (2010), “Christianity in the Graeco-Roman World: Socio-Political, Philosophical, and Religious Interactions Up to the Edict of Milan (CE 313)”, in D. J. Bingham (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Early Christian Thought, London: Routledge, 3–37. Löhr, Winrich (2010), “Christianity as Philosophy: Problems and Perspectives of an Ancient Intellectual Project”, Vigiliae Christianae 64, 160–188. MacRae, Duncan (2016), Legible Religion: Books, Gods, and Rituals in Roman Culture. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Morgan, Teresa (2015), Roman Faith and Christian Faith: Pistis and Fides in the Early Roman Empire and Early Churches, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 25

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Perrin, Michel-Yves (2017), Civitas confusionis: de la participation des fidèles aux controverses doctrinales dans l”Antiquité tardive (début IIIe s.-c. 430), Paris: Nuvis. Scheid, John (trans.), with foreword by Clifford Ando (2016), The Gods, the State, and the Individual: Reflections on Civic Religion in Rome, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Tanaseanu-Döbler, Ilinca (2013), Theurgy in Late Antiquity: The Invention of a Ritual Tradition, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. Tor, Shaul (2017), Mortal and Divine in Early Greek Epistemology: A Study of Hesiod, Xenophanes, and Parmenides, New York: Cambridge University Press. Trapp, Michael B. (2007), Philosophy in the Roman Empire: Ethics, Politics and Society, Aldershot: Ashgate. Van Nuffelen, Peter (2011), Rethinking the Gods: Philosophical Readings of Religion in the Post-Hellenistic Period, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Van Nuffelen, Peter (2018), Penser la tolérance dans l”Antiquité Tardive, Paris: Editions du Cerf. Versnel, H. S. (2011), Coping with the Gods: Wayward Readings in Greek Theology, Leiden: Brill. Young, Frances M. (1997), Biblical Exegesis and the Formation of Christian Culture, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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3 Nature Johannes Zachhuber

Introduction For the perennial question of the relationship between Patristic philosophy and the Hellenistic tradition, the Christian use of the concept of ‘nature’ (Greek: physis, φύσις) is of unique importance. With the Christological definition adopted by the Council of Chalcedon (451), ‘nature’ became a central part of the Christian dogma; but by assigning such a foundational role to this term, the Christian Church adapted language that had been at the centre of Greek philosophical thought from its very inception. Ever since the alleged marriage between Christianity and Hellenism became controversial in Western modernity, therefore, debates about the legitimacy of the Christian use of physis terminology have loomed large as well, and Patristic authors from Origen to Gregory of Nyssa and Cyril of Alexandria have been accused of unduly pandering to this problematical heritage. The terminological and conceptual connection between the Patristic usage and modern controversies about natural law and natural theology have meant that these debates inevitably took on a confessional dimension as well. This chapter will provide an overview of Patristic uses of this key term. No such account can be given without paying attention to the earlier philosophical tradition, from the Presocratics to the Middle and Neo-Platonists, but Christian debates will, nonetheless, turn out to have been remarkably independent of this influence. Their main non-Christian source was Philo of Alexandria, but from the second century onwards, Patristic authors, while obviously not sealed off from their intellectual environment, would largely engage with other Christian thinkers. In this sense, the history of the Church Fathers’ engagement with physis terminology provides a fascinating test case for the understanding of Patristic thought as an autonomous philosophy emerging as part of Christianity’s rise as the dominant religion of the Greek-speaking world during the first millennium of the common era. An account of ancient views of nature is nearly tantamount to its history in Greek-speaking writers. Physis is a Greek word for which many other languages do not seem to have obvious equivalents. Most modern European languages, where they do not work with derivatives of the Greek term, have borrowed the Latin natura, but this was itself only coined to render physis and did not, for a long time, lose a somewhat artificial ring. Syriac and Hebrew writers invented technical vocabulary, once again with the overt purpose of translating Greek ideas 27

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into their own idiom. Latin authors in late antiquity, such as Seneca, Epictetus, and Augustine, employed natura to develop their own ideas, but all major intellectual stimuli originated with Greek thinkers during this period. This was only to change in the Middle Ages and throughout early Modernity when Latin became the medium of theological and philosophical speculation on nature.

Greek philosophy Greek philosophy began with reflection about nature. The fact that many of the Presocratic philosophers are supposed to have authored books On Nature (περὶ φύσεων) may not be historically accurate but evidently reflects the centrality this concept had for their thought. One may summarise the fascination this term possessed for Greek thinkers throughout the centuries by observing two main uses they made of it. On the one hand, physis could denote the essential being of a thing or the principle of its existence. When, in the Odyssey, Hermes points out to Odysseus the physis of a plant (φύσιν αὐτοῦ ἔδειξε) he meant to indicate its miraculous healing power which made the hero immune to the witchcraft of Circe, the sorceress (Odyssey X 303). We can render physis here with ‘nature’ in a sense that is recognisable even today: it was the nature that is, the essence or the particular character of this plant to have precisely such an effect. On the other hand, however, physis could also mean ‘origin’ or ‘generation’. In this sense, Empedocles denied that there was physis ‘of any of all mortal things, neither any end of destructive death’ (fr. B8 D/K); his most recent translator plausibly rendered physis here with ‘birth’ (Graham 2010: 347). This dual meaning was and remained key for the adoption of physis terminology by Greek philosophers who were interested, in equal measure, in the essence or true being of things and in their ultimate origin. Employing physis served both ends; it was suggestive, moreover, of a common root connecting the two: understanding a thing’s character accordingly implied knowledge of its origin as well. Thus, Greek philosophy had a built-in tendency to assume that the world contained in itself answers to its fundamental questions insofar as knowledge of its true being or essence somehow also explained its cause and origin. Philosophical interest in physis was therefore closely related to the quest for the arche (ἀρχή), the origin and principle of all things. Both jointly emerged in our earliest philosophical sources, the so-called Presocratics. Among these thinkers, it was Heraclitus who presented the most elaborate version of this kind of nature philosophy. He tasked the philosopher with an analysis of reality ‘according to its nature’ (κατὰ φύσιν: fr. B1 D/K). This was necessary because physis was the true ontological foundation of all things indicating their origin and the principle of their development; precisely as such, however, nature was also difficult to grasp and understand. In a celebrated phrase, Heraclitus ascribed to physis the desire to hide itself (φύσις κρύπτεσθαι φιλεῖν: B123 D/K). In direct opposition, Parmenides expressed reserve towards the concept of physis. From extant fragments of his didactic poem, it appears that he wrote of ‘nature’ only in its opinion part (fr. B4, 5–8 DK; Curd 1998: 24–63) which spoke of what was only seemingly true. Mockingly, Parmenides there referred to the familiarity with ‘the nature of ether and all the constellations of ether’ (αἰθερίαν τε φύσιν τά τ’ ἐν αἰθέρι πάντα σήματα: fr. B10, 1–2 D/K) as examples of vain pseudo-knowledge. The approach of traditional nature philosophy was thus radically critiqued: truth, according to Parmenides, was not to be found in the dynamic flux and fluidity of nature but, rather, in a stable and immutable vanishing point that was itself detached from the empirical realm.

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With his emphatic opposition to nature philosophy, Parmenides wielded a strong influence over subsequent developments. For the history of physis terminology, however, his legacy was ambiguous: it led to a fundamental critique of nature as the realm of transience and instability which philosophical reflection did well to transcend, but also to a recalibration of the concept of physis by stipulating that nature in its truest and most fundamental form was identical with non-empirical, transcendent reality. Support for both options can be found in Plato. Overall, references to nature in his dialogues are notable mainly for their scarcity; physis clearly was no central concept in Plato’s thought. When Socrates in the Phaedo reported his early attachment to ‘natural history’ (τῆς φύσεως ἱστορία), the upshot of his narrative was a fundamental critique of this approach together with an affirmation of the theory of forms as a better alternative (95b–102a). Yet in the Republic, Plato indicated that and how physis could be integrated into his own philosophy referring to God, the creator of forms, as ‘maker of nature’ (φυτούργος) because he, unlike human artificers, produced what ‘by nature is’ (ἡ τῇ φύσει οὖσα: 597b) and what ‘by nature is one’ (μία φύσει: 597d). Thus far, God himself was beyond being as well as nature (cf. Republic VI, 509b), but the primary, true, and immutable being generated from this ultimate source was also paradigmatic nature. This notion, which preserved the centrality of physis in earlier philosophy but largely abandoned its traditional connotations of dynamic mutability and generative self-sufficiency, paved the way for the reception of physis terminology in Jewish and Christian thought. There can be no doubt that Aristotle produced the most worked-out and the most influential account of physis up until his own time and, arguably, of ancient philosophy in its entirety (Bostock 2006: 1–18). Yet in early Christian thought, little evidence of its influence can be detected except where this is mediated through Stoic or Platonic authors. The Stoics recapitulated earlier Presocratic views of an immanent conception of physis; they employed the anti-dualist arguments Aristotle had developed against Plato and the Academy but turned them against the Stagirite himself to arrive at a radically monistic conception of the world. The ultimate vanishing point of their doctrine of nature, however, was human practice, individual as well as communal (cf. Annas 1993: 159–179). Stoic physics was based on the premise that the world as a whole was ontologically homogeneous. The cosmos was a dynamic body comparable to a living being. Physis was uniquely fine stuff spread equally throughout the all and connecting its parts into an overall unit. Some Stoics explained the effect of the whole on its parts with ‘seminal principles’ (λόγοι σπερματικοί: DL VII 148–149), a notion that was to become important for later Christian authors. Stoic ethics and politics demanded a life ‘according to nature’; some of their most enduring ideas, such as theories of natural law, derived from this principle. Stoic philosophy with its monistic ontology, its materialistic cosmology, and its determinism offered few direct points of contact with Jewish or Christian thought. If, nonetheless, Stoic ideas of physis were to cast a long shadow over Patristic thought, this was mainly due to their reception and transformation by Platonic philosophers of the Hellenistic and Imperial era. The interference of Stoic and Platonic ideas can be seen, for example, in the second-century Platonist Atticus, whose view of Plato’s world soul is largely cast in Stoic terminology, thus aligning the dynamic concept of the ‘physical’ world with the ontologically layered account of the Platonic tradition (fr. 8, 17–19 Des Places; Köckert 2009: 76). In this trajectory, Neoplatonists, such as Plotinus and Proclus, conceived of nature as the lowest part of the intelligible world which, unlike soul, is directly in touch with matter shaping the latter on the basis of its intuition of higher parts of the intelligible cosmos (Plotinus, Enneads III 8, 4; O’Meara 1995: 74–76; Proclus, Commentary on the Timaeus, 10, 13–26 Diehl).

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Philo In Philo we find the most important early attempt to integrate the concept of physis into an overall theistic framework. Given the particular background of this concept in Greek philosophy, such an attempt was prima facie counterintuitive. After all, the adoption of physis terminology had been closely linked to a worldview rather different from that of the biblical religions with their emphasis on a personal God who radically transcended the cosmos as its creator. There were, in principle, two ways of dealing with this challenge: either that of restricting physis exclusively to creation while insisting on its radical separation from the divine, or the application of physis terminology to God himself, thus effectively aligning it with the language of being and substance (ousia). The latter, which was the more radical transformation of traditional usage, was only adumbrated in Philo but became dominant in the Patristic tradition. The former, which, similar to the strategy employed previously by Parmenides and Plato, would insist on a radical distinction between God and nature, thus understanding physis as the totality of created being, was Philo’s preferred view. This position was attractive insofar as it permitted an integration of the duality of meanings that had made the use of physis terminology philosophically desirable in the first place. After all, the theistic philosopher faced the problem of how the radically transcendent God could also be creator and originator of a world that was so different from him. Understanding the world as physis could help bridge this gap insofar as it introduced an element of dynamic generation, a principle of evolution and development which, while ultimately pointing to the world’s creator, could explain the world’s mutability and change on its own terms. Philo thus connected physis with the evolution of a plant from its seed (Quis rerum divinarum heres sit, 121), the growth and ripening of fruit (De congressu eruditionis gratia 4). He called nature the ‘universal mother’ of humanity to whom people owed their organs of sense perception, such as the tongue (De decalogo 41–42; De specialibus legibus II 4) and referred to the maternal womb as ‘nature’s workshop’ (τὸ τῆς φύσεως ἐργαστήριον: Legatio ad Gaium 56). In this specific sense, then, physis for Philo was the origin of all things, namely, their direct or immediate cause which, however, was itself subject to the authority of the divine creator. As in the earlier Greek tradition, this notion of origin or cause was connected with the notion of nature as a thing’s essence or its ontological character. This was particularly the case for human beings whose ‘nature’ corresponded, as it did in Stoicism, to their task of ethical and religious perfection. As they could, however, either fulfil this task or fail to do so, Philo’s references to human nature were ambiguous throughout. While he occasionally intimated the existence of a ‘fleshly nature’ in human beings that could explain their ‘unnatural’ existences (Quod deterius potiori insidiari soleat 83–84), his preferred argument resorted to human free will (Wolfson 1947, vol. 1: 437; Martens 2003: 72). In this as in other views, Philo was clearly dependent on Stoic thought, but he only received it in a characteristic twist in which the notion of a physically determined and ontologically self-sufficient physis was replaced by a physical world created towards its perfection by a transcendent and benevolent God. As in Stoicism, nature for Philo was, further, connected with ideas of order and structure, and for this, the Jewish thinker was happy to borrow from his Stoic predecessors the association of physis with logos. In other words, nature was not simply the direct cause of particular beings but the reason the world existed in a regularised and orderly fashion. In fact, Philo appears to have been the first author who with some consistency spoke of ‘natural law’ (νόμος φύσεως: Horsley 1978; Martens 2003: 75–77). This interest in nature as a source of rational order and structure was not without its theological motive insofar as it permitted aligning nature with the revelation of God’s word (logos) in and through the Thora, the divine Law (nomos). 30

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The philosophical reader of the Jewish law would thus observe a correspondence between the notion of universal nature inscribing rules into the cosmos as a whole and into human life in particular on the one hand, and the religious idea of a nomothetic God whose goodness is communicated to his human creatures through the revelation of his commandments. Throughout most of his writing, Philo was keen to separate God from nature and reserve physis terminology for created being. Yet there are passages in which he wrote of ‘God’s nature’ (Martens 2003: 77–80). The interpretation of these passages within the entirety of Philo’s corpus is not wholly clear, but the most likely explanation would understand them as resulting from Philo’s biblically founded concern not to detach God too radically from the world and, in particular, from humanity as encountered famously in his description of human beings as ‘existing on the boundary’ (μεθόριον) between the created world and the divine (De opificio mundi 133–135). Elsewhere, however, Philo strongly insisted on a dualism between creator and creation, arguing, for example, that human beings could not be ‘in the image’ of God (cf. Gen. 1, 27) but only in that of his Logos (Quaestiones in Genesim II 62). As many of his Jewish, Christian, and Islamic successors, then, Philo vacillated somewhat between a tendency sharply to emphasise the utter transcendence of God and an attempt to bridge the ontological gap between creator and creation. This ambiguity has left its traces in his use of physis terminology too. Philo’s importance for subsequent developments can hardly be overestimated. He drew on Stoic ideas but transformed them in a way that philosophically owed much to the Platonic tradition but was, ultimately, inscribed into the theistic framework of the Hebrew Bible. Without this particular form of transformative reception, later Patristic developments cannot be understood even though the Church Fathers pursued an intellectual path that was, ultimately, rather distinct from that of Philo himself.

From the New Testament to Origen Physis terminology is almost entirely absent from the New Testament, which is all the more remarkable given its popularity in roughly contemporaneous Jewish-Hellenistic writers, such as Josephus (Koester 1973: 264–270). The only notable exception is the late text 2 Peter 1, 4, promising believers to ‘become participants of the divine nature’. Reception of physical language and related ideas began in earnest with those second-century authors that have conventionally been grouped together under the label of ‘Gnosticism’. These authors were soon attacked as deviating from standard, Catholic Christianity. It is not, however, apparent that their use of physis terminology was criticised as such even though their particular interpretation of it was. Rather, the Gnostics appear to have initiated a broader willingness among Christian writers to operate with this terminology. The primary context in which Gnostic authors employed physis terminology was soteriological. The Valentinians, we learn from Irenaeus, distinguished three kinds (γενή) of human beings, pneumatic, psychic, and hylic, according to the three sons of Adam – Cain, Abel, and Seth. From them (ἐκ τούτων) descended ‘three natures, no longer individuals but races’ (Irenaeus, Against Heresies I 7, 5; cf. Aland 1977). In support of this theory, the Valentinians cited Gen. 5, 1 (γένεσις τῶν ἀνθρῶπων: Excerpts from Theodotus 3, 54). Nature, then, refers to unity in kind on the basis of genealogical descent. This conception is related to the older terminological history of physis with its combination of the notions of essential character and origin, but the latter is now conceived specifically as genealogy. On the basis of this community of origin, the pneumatics were ‘by nature’ destined for salvation (φύσει σωζόμενον), whereas the hylics were destined to perish (ibid.). A similarly genealogical relationship existed between the pneumatics and God whose nature was ‘immaculate, pure and invisible’ (Heracleon in Origen, Commentary 31

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on John XIII 25) and who was worshipped ‘in spirit and truth’ (John 4, 24) by those who were ‘of the same nature with the Father’ (ibid., cf. Wucherpfennig 2002: 333–357). With the anti-Gnostic Fathers of the late second and early third century, we stand at the beginning of a genuinely Patristic philosophy for which the use of physis terminology became increasingly pivotal. The most important among them was Origen, the first Christian author, as far as we can make out, who employed this language on a broad scale. In doing so, he drew on Philo but also on Stoic and Middle Platonic authors (Köckert 2009; Tzamalikos 2006). Nonetheless, it is arguable that his opposition to Gnostic ideas was particularly pertinent for this aspect of his thought as the tendency of his innovative adoption of physical language can best be explained against this backdrop. The most characteristic, but also unexpected, observation in this connection is that Origen understood by ‘nature’ a plane or sphere of being. He could thus write that God created ‘two natures’, visible and invisible (‘duas generales naturas condiderit deus: naturam visibilem, id est corpoream, et naturam invisibilem, quae est incorporea’: First Principles III 6, 7). Against his Gnostic opponents, he would emphasise that all rational creatures are ‘of the same nature’ (‘unius namque naturae esse omnes rationabiles creaturas’: First Principles III 5, 4). At the same time, he denied – against Heracleon – that they are homoousios with God (Commentary on John XIII 25), who, as ‘uncreated nature’, had to be radically distinguished from all created being. The ‘nature of the Trinity’, Origen insisted, ‘had nothing in common with creatures except the good it does to them’ (‘nihil sit cum creatura commune nisi beneficentiae opus’: Commentary on Romans VIII 13, 7). He could therefore also say that the Son is ‘by nature’ (φύσει) like the Father (Commentary on John II 10, 76), anticipating later trinitarian language. What is remarkable about all these passages is less their underlying theology, let alone their division of being into intelligible and sensible, but the way Origen integrated a particular concept of nature into each of these arguments. As we have seen, the use of physis for the Godhead had hardly any precedent in either pagan philosophy or in Philo. The latter had written of ‘nature’ as the totality of created being but retained for this the dynamic component so characteristic of the term’s use in earlier Greek thought. Origen introduced into Christian parlance a use of physis from which this dynamic dimension had almost completely disappeared. Also absent was the dual meaning of ‘character’ and ‘origin’. This is not to say that these terminological nuances could never be called upon by Christian authors; in fact, Origen himself retained the more traditional understanding of the term in other contexts. But henceforth ‘nature’ could be used without any of those connotations, simply to denote a particular ontological plane or sphere regardless of its particular place in the metaphysical hierarchy: there was divine as well as created nature; sensible as well as intelligible nature, visible as well as invisible nature, and so forth. This innovation in Origen soon became widely accepted among Christian authors and served as the basis for later doctrinal uses of the term. More traditional was Origen’s use of physis terminology in the context of his doctrine of creation. Against the Valentinian theory of the three races of human beings, Origen developed an account of the creation of ‘human nature’ which, although not in itself material, contained the seeds (λόγοι) of future humanity (Against Celsus 4, 40). Here, the dynamic element of physis is as much in evidence as its relationship with notions of principle and origin. In sum, one finds in Origen almost the whole gamut of future Patristic uses of physis at least in nuce: 1 2

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Physis can be applied to any plane or sphere of being. As such a sphere of being, physis is, inevitably, universal nature. Using the term in this sense will often, therefore, at least imply a generic sense.

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3 4

When applied to created being, the more traditional, dynamic sense of physis is retained. From all it follows that physis can also, quite traditionally, stand for the particular character of an individual thing.

Ultimately, physis was not, however, a key term in Origen’s thought. While he used it in certain ways, which were partly traditional and partly innovative, and while he was evidently keen to weaponise it in his anti-Gnostic polemic, the term is not foundational for either his doctrine of God or for his accounts of creation and redemption.

Gregory of Nyssa Gregory of Nyssa’s entire thought was deeply influenced by Origen, and this holds for his use of physis as well. His main, additional step beyond his Alexandrian forebear was the promotion of this concept to a central pillar of his own, elaborate version of Patristic philosophy (Zachhuber 1999, 2010). At the same time, Gregory had to reckon with more recent doctrinal developments in which physis terminology was directly implicated. Most important in this regard was the Nicene watchword homoousios. This had already been glossed with the terms ὁμογενής and ὁμοφυής in the third-century controversy between Dionysius of Rome and his Alexandrian namesake (ap. Athanasius, On the Opinion of Dionysius 18). In the mid-fourth century, Athanasius took for granted the identity of homoousios with ‘of the same nature’ (cf. Tome to the Antiochenes 6), an assumption that was, apparently, universally shared by that time. For Gregory, therefore, the use of physis terminology became inextricably intertwined with his defence of the Nicene trinitarian settlement. In a second development during the same period, the soteriological use of physis terminology, which had already been central to second-century Gnostics, was re-emphasised in the context of the trinitarian controversy. Athanasius, drawing on Irenaeus, opposed his Arian opponents with the claim that only a radical affirmation of the Son’s divinity would safeguard human salvation. In his early writing On the Incarnation, he used the metaphor of a king entering a city to advance the argument that Christ’s assumption of ‘human nature’ in the Incarnation would subsequently lead to the transformation of humanity more generally and thus to human salvation understood as divinisation (On the Incarnation 9.3; cf. 54,3). This soteriological use of physis, it should be noted, served to solidify the novel, Christian understanding of ‘nature’ as sphere or plane of being; ‘divine’ and ‘human’ natures are merely different kinds of being entering into a uniquely intense union in the Incarnation, and this new state is passed on from there, on account of the ontological cohesion of humankind, to all those who are to be saved. For Gregory, these trinitarian and soteriological uses of physis terminology were, therefore, already part of the Patristic tradition which he received. In a third main area in which he worked with this conceptual apparatus, the doctrine of creation, he equally followed earlier Patristic precedent. His main contribution, then, was not the introduction of physis terminology in areas to which it had not previously been applied, but the increased systematic coherence with which he worked physis into the conceptual backbone of his Christian philosophy. In fact, Gregory contributed comparatively little to the one doctrinal field in which physis terminology was to play a major role later, Christology. Physis for the Nyssen meant, firstly, being at all its levels and in all its variations. As Origen, therefore, Gregory too employed ‘nature’ to denote planes or spheres of being using expressions such as divine or uncreated, created, intelligible, or material nature (On Infants’ Early Deaths pp. 6–7, 77 Mueller). He could even write of ‘wet’ or ‘warm’ nature (in Hexaëmeron, ­Patrologia Graeca 44, 65D; 105B), meaning simply beings that are of such a kind. From this usage, Gregory transitioned, as easily as Origen before him, to an understanding of physis as universal being. Gregory’s interest in the latter concept was, however, much stronger than that 33

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of his Alexandrian forerunner or, in fact, that of any other, earlier Christian thinker, as far as we know. He developed a full-fledged theory of universal being on the basis of this notion of physis. In his cosmology, Gregory retained from Philo and Origen the traditional, dynamic understanding of physis indicating the coherence between unity and plurality of the created order (cf. in Hexaëmeron, Patrologia Graeca 44, 72B; 108A–B). Gregory’s specific understanding of physis took shape as part of his contribution to the final phase of the trinitarian controversy. In his writings against Eunomius of Cyzicus, he defended the neo-Nicene doctrine advanced originally by his older brother, Basil, conceptualising the Trinity as one ousia in three hypostases. Gregory, assuming the identity of ousia and physis, elaborated on Basil’s idea that ousia was ‘the common’ (τὸ κοινόν) as opposed to hypostasis as ‘the particular’ (τὸ ἴδιον): divine nature was one, he urged, on account of the common ‘account of being’ that can be applied to all the three Persons. Divine physis was thus the community of ontologically coordinated individuals connected by a common origin in the Father. Nature is truly one, as Gregory argued against the charge that this doctrine amounted to tritheism, but only exists in its independently existing hypostases: Nature, however, is one, unified with itself and a precisely undivided monad, not increased through addition nor decreased through subtraction, but in what it is it is one and remains one even though it appears in a multitude. It is indivisible, continuous, and complete and not divided alongside the particulars that participate in it. And just as a people, a community, an army, and an assembly is always said in the singular, but each is known in the plural, so according to the more precise formula, ‘man’ is properly said as one, even though those who are shown in the same nature are a multitude. (To Ablabius 41, 2–12 Mueller) Gregory was unusual among the early fathers in his willingness to inscribe this same philosophical theory into other main elements of his theology, especially his doctrine of creation and salvation. In the former, he argued influentially that Gen. 1, 27 must be understood of ‘universal’ (καθόλου) humanity which, in God’s foresight, was ‘potentially’ contained in his first creation already (Making of Man 16; cf. Zachhuber 2005a: 94–97; but cf. Hübner 1974: 67–91 for a different interpretation). Human nature in this sense, is a unity-in-multiplicity existing in a limited number of individuals; once their full number (πλήρωμα) has been reached, the history of the world comes to its end and the whole of human nature will be resurrected (On the Soul = Patrologia Graeca 46, 128C–D). In this connection, Gregory also affirmed universal salvation since the injection of divinity into human nature in the Incarnation will inevitably spread to the entirety of the race (Catechetical Oration 16; 32). In its conceptual coherence and its systematic potential, Gregory’s doctrine of physis became foundational for the future development of Patristic philosophy. According to his theory, physis was both the totality of individuals as well as the common item identically present in each member of the class and expressed by a shared definition; it thus combined a concrete and an abstract aspect while avoiding transcendent, Platonic forms. Within a generation, this theory became widely accepted and shared by Eastern theologians regardless of their school affiliation although not, initially, in the area of Christology.

Physis and Christology For the introduction of physis terminology into the language of Christology, Gregory of Nyssa’s older contemporary, Apollinarius of Laodicea, was crucial. From the fragmentary remains of 34

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his work, it is evident that his philosophical ambition must have been a close match to that of the Nyssen. While his condemnation as a heretic at the end of the fourth century limited his influence on subsequent developments, his significance should not be underestimated. Apollinarius emphasised the unity of divinity and humanity in Christ by speaking of him as the ‘one incarnate nature’ (μία φύσις σεσαρκομνένη: To Jovian; To Dionysius A2). His preferred analogy was that of a human being consisting of body and soul. As Alois Grillmeier observed (1975: 334–335), ‘physis is here by no means the static, abstract “essentia”. [. . .] Physis is the “self-determining being” (ζῷον αὐτοκίνητον, αὐτοενέργετον)’. In other words, Apollinarius emphatically affirmed, within the context of a Christian philosophy, the dynamic element that had been characteristic of the earlier philosophical use of physis. His opponents mostly fastened onto his rejection of a human mind in the saviour, thus accusing him of teaching an ‘incomplete’ human nature in Christ. As part of this argument, Gregory of Nazianzus affirmed the need to speak of two natures in the God-man (φύσεις μὲν γὰρ δύο Θεὸς καὶ ἄνθρωπος: Letters 101, 19). In this context, however, the requirement that universal physis had to exist in concrete hypostases was neglected. While the Cappadocians can thus be said to have prepared the language of Chalcedon, they were also responsible for the regular charge that the teaching of two natures implied the existence of two hypostases as well as there could be ‘no physis without hypostasis’ (cf. Leontius of Byzantium, Against the Nestorians and Eutychians 1; John the Grammarian, Apology for the Council of Chalcedon IV, 82–83 Richard). In the controversy between Apollinarius and the Cappadocians, the concept of physis was not yet central, but this changed in the conflict between Cyril and Nestorius half a century later. Significantly, both parties took the Cappadocian understanding of physis as their starting point. On this basis, Nestorius reasoned that the affirmation of two natures, divine and human, in Christ had to imply the existence of two hypostases as well whose union could only be mysteriously guaranteed by stipulating a single prosopon (Book of Heraclides, 231 Bedjan; see Grillmeier 1975: 507). Cyril, by contrast, emphasised the unity of hypostasis and thus affirmed the doctrine of ‘one incarnate nature’ in the saviour. In doing so, he drew on Apollinarius, whose writings he believed were written by orthodox Fathers. A significant part of his followers therefore saw the definition of Chalcedon with its affirmation of two natures in Christ as a betrayal of Cyril’s genuine position even though the Council Fathers inscribed their Antiochene language into a Cyriline framework.

Physis in the controversies after Chalcedon The parallel between the Christological use of physis and its use in the trinitarian context was suggested by the so-called ‘double homoousion’, the affirmation that Christ was ‘homoousios with the Father according to his divinity and homoousios with us according to his humanity’ (Wiles 1965). From the 430s onwards, this formula was widely used and, in 451, became part of the Chalcedonian formula (ACO 2,1,2, 129, 26–27). Nonetheless, there is no evidence that its affirmation at this point indicated a fundamental willingness to integrate Trinitarian theology and Christology into a single philosophical framework. This only changed in the early sixth century, when John the Grammarian (of Caesarea) authored an apology of the Council of Chalcedon in which he sought to align the Christological use of physis with the older Cappadocian theory. The Grammarian argued that in Christology as in the Trinity, physis like ousia stood for universal being; the Chalcedonian formula thus merely affirmed the generally recognised truth that Christ was both divine and human, i.e. participated in both these natures. This was an ingenious move. Chalcedonians who, until then, faced the criticism that the Council had broken with Patristic precedent as represented 35

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by Cyril, could now retort that their doctrine was simply the application to Christology of the Cappadocian conception of physis that was generally accepted as authoritative. While details of the Grammarian’s view remained controversial, the principle that a single philosophical conception of physis was needed for both theology and economy soon became universally accepted by Chalcedonians as well as their opponents. The leading miaphysite thinker of the early sixth century, Severus of Antioch, opposed the Grammarian’s claim that the Incarnation was the union of universal natures as, in this case, the ­consequence would be that the whole Trinity was incarnate in the whole of humanity (Against an Impious Grammarian II 22; III 23). The only way to avoid this conundrum, Severus believed, was to accept that physis became individuated in each hypostasis. The single nature of Christ, which Severus considered to be the doctrine of the fathers, would thus be a ‘unified nature’ (φύσις σύνθετος) underlying the divine-human hypostasis of the saviour. This theory was consolidated by the leading Patristic philosopher of the sixth century, John Philoponus (Lang 2001a). He identified Severus’ particular nature with the ‘particular substance’ (μερικὴ οὐσία) which the Aristotelian commentators of late antiquity had introduced. Nature, Philoponus suggested, could be either universal or particular in the same way a universal term, such as ‘human being’, could be applied to the whole race or to the individual (Arbiter 7, ap. John of Damascus, On Heresies 83 addit.). In the Incarnation, divine nature became human only insofar as it was ‘individuated’ in the second Person, the Logos. Likewise, the object of the Incarnation was the human nature individuated in Jesus. As Severus before him, Philoponus supported this claim with the evident absurdity that otherwise the whole Trinity would have taken flesh in the whole of humanity. At its time, the introduction of particular natures represented the most consequential transformation of the Cappadocian, classical theory in the interest of accounting for the individuality of the Incarnate Christ. It could, perhaps counterintuitively, claim the support of a considerable number of passages from unquestionably orthodox fathers who had used physis (or ousia) for the particular instance of a nature (e.g. Gregory of Nazianzus, Poems on the Mysteries 2.8) Yet its repercussions for Trinitarian doctrine were severe as it could be argued that the three trinitarian Persons were also three particular natures and thus three substances and three deities (Ebied et al. 1981: 34–43). Philoponus, who philosophically was a particularist (Erismann 2008), sided with these ‘tritheists’, thus discrediting the introduction of particular natures despite his philosophically rigorous argument in their favour (Lang 2001b).

Physis in Chalcedonian Christology Discussions about nature became so important during this period that no full account of it can be given in the present place. Practically every major Chalcedonian author between the sixth and the eighth century dwelled at length on questions directly or indirectly arising from the use of this terminology in the Christological controversy and in the doctrine of the Trinity with more or less attention to its more traditional uses in the doctrines of creation and salvation. In what follows, only a brief survey can be given of particularly characteristic positions that can be encountered in some of these writers. a) In his Epilyseis, Leontius of Byzantium reported the question posed by his miaphysite opponent of whether Christ assumed a universal or an individual nature. His response was that it was an individual nature, but that this was the same as the universal nature (Leontius, Epilyseis 1). This response soon became popular; we find it repeated even in John of Damascus (see later). Few Chalcedonian authors, however, explained what they meant by it. Some, such as Anastasius of Antioch, evidently chose to ignore the conceptual challenge posed by their opponents 36

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insisting that universal natures, as introduced by the Cappadocians were perfectly suited to explain the Christological dogma as well: We call him God, not a God, and we call him man, not a man. For he is God and man, and the [use of the] universal terms indicates that of which he is [composed] – not of particular hypostases but of universal substances (Oration III, 54, 15–18 Sakkos). In the face of Severus’ and Philoponus’ innovative teaching, Anastasius evidently sought to affirm the traditional, Patristics view according to which natures (or substances) were universal, not particular. Two natures in the saviour, therefore, did not make impossible the single hypostasis guaranteeing Christ’s unified person. Yet this argument could only appear plausible because the additional assumption in Gregory of Nyssa, according to which universals could only exist in and through particular hypostases, was jettisoned. Universal nature as affirmed by Anastasius and other Chalcedonians was an abstract essence, a concept the Cappadocians had avoided as it could suggest that the trinitarian ousia was an entity separate from its three hypostases. b) Other writers, such as Leontius of Jerusalem, were more willing to accommodate the conceptual challenges identified by Chalcedon’s opponents. Leontius recognised that the union of two natures in one hypostasis could only be explained by severing the link in Cappadocian thought between the individuation of universal natures and their concrete, hypostatic existence. This he attempted by introducing ‘individual natures’. It was such an individual nature (φύσιν ἰδικήν τινα) which the Logos assumed into his own hypostasis (Against the Nestorians I 20). At first sight, Leontius’ individual nature seems utterly similar to Philoponus’ particular nature. Yet while the latter was based on the ontological division of the universal – and thus imperilled ontological realism – Leontius’ theory introduced a difference between the concept of individuals (the compound of universal plus particular properties) and their actual, hypostatic realisation. Characteristically, he illustrated his theory by appealing to fictional individuals or to people who had long dead but were still known to us ‘according to their [individual] nature’ but not in their hypostasis (Against the Nestorians II 19). In this manner, Christ could have had an individuated human nature including both generic and individual properties without possessing a second, human hypostasis. Leontius’ conception is highly innovative (Richard 1944; Krausmüller 2006); he probably was the first thinker in antiquity to conceptualise ‘existence’ as such, in abstraction from individuating properties thus preparing the later convention of distinguishing essence and existence. c) Yet another approach is to be found in Maximus Confessor, the single most influential Chalcedonian theologian up until the Arabic conquest. Maximus developed his own theory of universal nature harking back in major aspects to Gregory of Nyssa’s Cappadocian philosophy (Balthasar 1988; Törönen 2007; Zachhuber 2005a). His purpose, while related to the doctrinal controversies of his time, was ultimately the integration into the Byzantine tradition of the speculative, Origenist heritage, endangered after the condemnations of the sixth century. Maximus therefore utilised universal nature to explain unity and multiplicity in the world as part of the process of salvation history in which all things have their origin in God to whom, also, they will ultimately return. Inscribed into this narrative is a description of universality and particularity as perfectly complementary. Universal natures could not exist without the individuals of whom they consisted (ἐκ γὰρ τῶν κατὰ μέρος τὰ καθόλου συνίστασθαι πέφυκε: Ambigua II 10,42), but by the same token, it was equally the case that no particulars existed or could ever exist without their universal kinds (Ambigua II 10, 32). Like Gregory of Nyssa, Maximus was a realist for whom the genera ‘that are united in substance are one (ἕν), the same (ταὐτόν) and indivisible (ἀδιαίρετον)’ (Ambigua II 41). 37

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This complementariness, however, was only possible due to the dynamic character of physis. Universal nature and its individuals were engaged in a permanent ontological movement of division and synthesis, from the highest to the lowest and back (Ambigua II 10, 37). Its theological basis was Maximus’ doctrine of creation in which, as previously in Origen and Gregory of Nyssa, created being was initially only potentially (δυνάμει), not actually (ἐνεργείᾳ) complete (Questions to Thalassius 2; Ambigua II 7). Thus, the single, divine Logos is manifold in the context of creation (πολλοὺς εἴσεται λόγους τὸν ἕνα λόγον), while the intellectual and mystical intuition of the world recognises in the many logoi the one Word as its creator, origin, and principle (Ambigua II 7; cf. Dalmais 1952; Larchet 1996: 112–124). While the influence of Neoplatonic ideas, received mainly through ps.-Dionysius the A ­ reopagite, is stronger in Maximus than in many other Patristic authors, the main contours of his appropriation of physis are, once again, inherited from the tradition of Origen and the Cappadocians. d) John of Damascus was interested in physis mainly in the Christological context. Many earlier theories are encountered again and integrated into a thought-through, systematic presentation (Cross 2000; Zachhuber 2013: 466–469). In The Orthodox Faith, he distinguished three meanings of physis (Exposition 55): it is either universal nature which has no independent existence (cf. Simplicius, Commentary on the Categories, pp. 8–10, 83 Kalbfleisch); or it is nature ‘as seen in the species’ (ἐν τῷ εἴδει θεωρουμένη φύσις); or it exists in the hypostasis together with individual properties and is, as such, ‘seen in the individual’ (ἐν ἀτόμῳ θεωρουμένη φύσις). The Incarnation, Damascene argued, cannot be said according to the first of these, but both the second and third options have some claim to truth. With this solution, John seems to come close to Leontius of Jerusalem’s position, but his statement that nature as ‘seen in the species’ and as ‘seen in the individual’ are the same echoes Leontius of Byzantium’s more equivocal view.

Conclusion Patristic reflection on nature was intense and diverse. The classical theory developed by Gregory of Nyssa was retained in principle but also critiqued and modified in the centuries after Chalcedon. Resulting theories included the particularism of John Philoponus and the intriguing distinction of essence and existence introduced by Leontius of Jerusalem. Among the various topics of Patristic philosophy, this was one of the most influential. John of Damascus’ views were frequently quoted and much discussed in scholastic texts since the twelfth century. Dionysius Petavius in the early seventeenth century presented a lengthy overview of relevant texts in his Dogmatic Theology (De trinitate IV 9), influencing thinkers as diverse as Ralph Cudworth (1743, vol. IV: 34) and Isaak August Dorner (1839: 57).

Bibliography Aland, Barbara (1977), “Erwählungstheologie u. Menschenklassenlehre: Die Theologie des Herakleon als Schlüssel zum Verständnis der christlichen Gnosis”, in M. Krause (Hg.), Gnosis and Gnosticism: Papers Read at the Seventh International Conference on Patristic Studies, Leiden: Brill, 148–181. Annas, Julia (1993), The Morality of Happiness, New York: Oxford University Press. Balthasar, Hans Urs von (1988), Cosmic Liturgy: The Universe According to Maximus Confessor, Brian E. Daley (trans.), San Francisco: Ignatius Press. Bostock, David (2006), Space, Time, Matter, and Form: Essays on Aristotle’s Physics, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Cross, Richard (2000), “Perichoresis, Deification and Christological Predication in John of Damascus”, Mediaeval Studies 57, 69–124. Cudworth, Ralph (1743), The True Intellectual System of the Universe, T. Birch (ed.), 2 vols., London. 38

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Curd, P. (1998), The Legacy of Parmenides: Eleatic Monism and Later Presocratic Thought, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Dalmais, I.-H. (1952), “La théorie des ‘logoi’ des créatures chez saint Maxime le Confesseur”, Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques 36, 244–249. Dorner, Isaak August (1839), Entwicklungsgeschichte der Lehre von der Person von den ältesten Zeiten bis auf die neueste dargestellt, Stuttgart. Ebied, R., L. Wickham and A. van Roey (1981), Peter of Callinicum: Anti-Tritheist Dossier, Louvain: Peeters. Erismann, Christophe (2008), “The Trinity, Universals, and Particular Substances: Philoponus and Roscelin”, Traditio 53, 277–305. Graham, Daniel W. (2010), The Texts of Early Greek Philosophy: The Complete Fragments and Selected Testimonies of the Major Presocratics. Part I, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Grillmeier, Alois, Theresia Hainthaler et al. (1975), Christ in Christian Tradition (2 in 4 parts), J. Bowden, P. Allen and J. Cowte (trans.), 2 vols., London: Mowbray. Horsley, R. A. (1978), “The Law of Nature in Philo and Cicero”, Harvard Theological Review 71, 35–59. Hübner, Reinhard Maria (1974), Die Einheit des Leibes Christi: Untersuchungen zum Ursprung der ‘physischen’ Erlösungslehre, Leiden: Brill. Köckert, Charlotte (2009), Christliche Kosmologie u. kaiserzeitliche Philosophie: Die Auslegung des Schöpfungsberichtes bei Origenes, Basilius u. Gregor von Nyssa vor dem Hintergrund kaiserzeitlicher Timaeus-Interpretation, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. Koester, Helmut (1973), “φύσις”, in G. Kittel et al. (eds.), Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament IX, Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 246–271. Krausmüller, Dirk (2006), “Divine Self-Invention. Leontius of Jerusalem’s Reinterpretation of the Patristic Model of the Christian God”, Journal of Theological Studies 57, 526–545. Lang, Uwe M. (2001a), John Philoponus and the Controversies over Chalcedon in the sixth Century: A Study and Translation of the Arbiter, Leuven: Peeters. Lang, Uwe M. (2001b), “Notes on John Philoponus and the Tritheist Controversy in the Sixth Century”, Oriens Christianus 85, 23–40. Larchet, J.-C. (1996), La divinisation de l’homme selon saint Maxime le Confesseur, Paris: Cerf. Martens, John W. (2003), One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and the Greco-Roman Law, Leiden: Brill. O’Meara, Dominic (1995), Plotinus: An Introduction to the Enneads, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Petavius, Dionysius/Denis Petau (1644–1650), Dogmata theologica, 4 vols., Paris. Richard, Marcel (1944), “Léonce de Jérusalem et Léonce de Byzance”, Mèlanges de science religieuse 1, 35–88. Törönen, Melchisedec (2007), Union and Distinction in the Thought of St. Maximus the Confessor, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Tzamalikos, Panagiotes (2006), Origen: Cosmology and Ontology of Time, Leiden: Brill. Wiles, Maurice (1965), “ΟΜΟΟΥΣΙΟΣ ΗΜΙΝ”, Journal of Theologial Studies 16, 545–561. Wolfson, Harry A. (1947), Philo: Foundations of Religious Philosophy in Judaism, Christianity and Islam (Structure and Growth of Philosophic Systems from Plato to Spinoza II), Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Wucherpfennig, Ansgar (2002), Heracleon Philologus: gnostische Johannesexeges im zweiten Jahrhundert, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. Zachhuber, J. (1999), Human Nature in Gregory of Nyssa: Philosophical Background and Theological Significance, Leiden: Brill. Zachhuber, J. (2005a), “Once Again: Gregory of Nyssa on Universals”, Journal of Theological Studies 56, 75–98. Zachhuber, J. (2005b), “Das Universalienproblem in der griechischen Patristik u. im frühen Mittelalter. Vorläufige Überlegungen zu einer wenig erforschten Transformation des ersten Millenniums”, Millennium 2, 137–174. Zachhuber, J. (2010), “Physis”, in L. F. Mateo-Seco and G. Maspero (eds.), The Brill Dictionary of Gregory of Nyssa, Leiden: Brill, 615–620. 39

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Zachhuber, J. (2013), “Universals in the Greek Church Fathers”, in R. Chiaradonna and G. Galluzzo (eds.), Universals in Ancient Thought, Pisa: Edizioni della Normale, 425–470. Zachhuber, J. (2015), “Derivative Genera in Apollinarius of Laodicea: Some Remarks on the Philosophical Coherence of His Thought”, in S.-P. Bergjan, B. Gleede and M. Heimgartner (eds.), Apollinarius und seine Folgen, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 93–113.

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4 Time and eternity1 Ilaria L.E. Ramelli

Time and eternity in the philosophers After a short investigation into ancient philosophy, I  shall pass on to Scripture and patristic thinkers. Among the Presocratics, the notion of “eternity/eternal” was expressed by ἀΐδιος, although without connotations of metaphysical transcendence. For instance, Heraclitus referred ἀΐδιος to the perpetual movement of things eternal and to the cyclical fire, which is god (T22A6DK; 8–10DK). Among the Eleatics, Parmenides is said to have described the universe as ἀΐδιος, qua ungenerated and imperishable (T22DK). Democritus too argued that time was ἀΐδιος, as ungenerated (T68A71DK), like the universe (ἀΐδιον τὸ πᾶν, T 100 DK) and the atoms (T37DK). The term of art for eternal things, ungenerated and imperishable, among cosmological thinkers before Plato, was ἀΐδιος. This is also the standard adjective meaning “eternal” in non-philosophical discourse of the fifth century as well.2 Plato introduced the notion of eternity not as infinite duration, but as transcending time, adiastematic. To this he applied the term αἰών, with αἰώνιος meaning “eternal” qua atemporal.3 His terminology was followed by all Platonists – and only by them, strictly speaking.4 His novelty was caught by the anonymous sixth-century Prolegomena to Platonic Philosophy 9: it claims that Plato introduced the notion of eternity as distinct from time. Plato’s concept of metaphysical, timeless eternity refers to the model that the Demiurge followed in creating the sensible universe by looking “to the eternal” (τὸ ἀΐδιον). Τhe created universe is moving and living, an image of the eternal gods (τῶν ἀϊδίων θεῶν, Timaeus 37C6), and itself an “eternal living being” (ζῷον ἀΐδιον, 37D1). It was the nature of the living being to be αἰώνιος, but this quality could not be attached to something begotten (γεννητόν). The creator therefore decided to make “a kind of moving image of eternity” (αἰῶνος), time (χρόνος, Timaeus 37D5), “an eternal image [αἰώνιον εἰκόνα], moving according to number, of the eternity [αἰῶνος] which remains in one(ness).” While time moves according to number, eternity remains in oneness. This is the eternity of the divinity, which is unbegotten, and the Ideas/Forms. Ἀϊδιότης is everlastingness throughout all times, like that of the soul, or of stars; sometimes it also refers to the transcendent Ideas. God is “immortal more than anything else” (ἀθάνατος, Phaedo 106D5–7), but souls are too (Phaedr.245C), being imperishable (Phaedo

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88B; 95C1; Republic 608D3, etc.) and ungenerated (Phaedr.245C). Their creation by the Demiurge is more causal than temporal. Plato’s conception of a timeless eternity continued in Platonism.5 Ammonius, Plutarch’s teacher, maintained that God, “being One, has filled eternity with one’s now” (Plutarch EDelph.393BC). Alcinous describes the Ideas as “eternal [αἰώνια] paradigms of entities in nature” and “God’s eternal thoughts” (Did.9.2), a typical Middle Platonic concept,6 developed in Patristic philosophy by Clement, Bardaisan, Origen, and others. Plotinus, known to Nyssen, Augustine, and other Christian Platonists, rejected Aristotle’s definition of time as the measure of movement (Physics 4.11–12) and identified time with the life of the soul (Enneads 3.7.12.20–25). While Nous and Noesis are atemporal, dianoia is temporal (Enneads 6.1.4.7–19).7 Plotinus defines eternity as “a life which is here and now, endless, being total . . . without past or future” (Enneads 3.7.5.25–28), linking it with the Nous (not the One: Proclus and Damascius later disagreed).8 He devoted Enneads 3.7(45)11–13 to the appearance of time and the cosmos, and emanation.9 Porphyry, who was familiar with both Plotinus’ and Origen’s ideas on time and eternity, supported the eternal creation of the world by the Demiurge and its eternal becoming ordered (Commentary on Timaeus F46Sodano) and knew and ridiculed the Christian promise of ζωὴ αἰώνιος (Against the Christians F69), while Iamblichus used the Platonic vocabulary of αἰών/αἰώνιος very little; he referred ἀΐδιος to eternity and called eternal life ζωὴ ἀΐδιος, not αἰώνιος.10 However, the meaning of αἰών and αἰώνιος was different in other philosophical schools, and in Greek in general, as well as in the Greek Bible. In Aristotle’s oeuvre there are nearly 300 instances of ἀΐδιος, Aristotle’s preferred word for things eternal, while he used αἰών only occasionally, mostly in the traditional sense of “life”. Aristotle was not moved to adopt Plato’s novel terminology, whether because he perceived some difference between his own concept of eternity and that of his teacher, owing also to his theory of immanent Forms, or because he deemed αἰώνιος an unnecessary addition to the philosophical vocabulary, given the respectability of ἀΐδιος as the technical term for eternity. His ideas and terminology were followed by his commentators.11 In the Stoics,12 who rejected Plato’s metaphysics, ἀΐδιος refers over thirty times to that which endures forever. It is applied to bodies and matter, the realities that truly exist according to Stoic materialism (τὰ ὄντα), and above all to god/Zeus. The Stoics employed αἰώνιος and αἰών, too, either to indicate a long period of time or in connection with their view of recurring cosmic cycles, marked by the periodic destruction and restoration of new worlds, where the events follow one another according to Necessity, always identical in each world (Origen will confront this Stoic theory). Thus, in Stoic terminology – as in all of Greek literature apart from technical Platonic language – αἰώνιος does not mean “absolutely eternal”, a meaning reserved for ἀΐδιος. Notably, to designate eternity, Marcus Aurelius does not employ αἰών alone, but ἀΐδιος αἰών, meaning “eternal duration” (9.32). The Epicureans, too, following Democritus, regularly employed ἀΐδιος of the eternity of atoms and void, the imperishable constituents of the universe. Epicurus uses αἰώνιος in reference to the future life that non-Epicureans expect, with its dreadful punishments – an afterlife in which Epicureans do not believe, and which does not deserve the name “eternal” (ἀΐδιος). In non-philosophical Greek, in Homer, early lyric, and tragedy, αἰών principally bears the sense of “life”, “a period of time”, “generation”; in classical and Hellenistic Greek, it means “long duration”, “perpetuity from one generation to the next”, “lifetime”, and the like; it sometimes indicates eternity only in reference to the divine, but this meaning is generally conveyed by ἀΐδιος. 42

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Biblical usage In the Bible, the other and main source of inspiration to patristic thinkers, αἰών and αἰώνιος refer to eternity, sometimes, when modifying God and what directly pertains to God; otherwise, they indicate a long time, a remote time in the past or the future, the series of generations, or a lifetime. Aἰώνιος even means worldly/mundane, or belonging to the other world.13 Within the Septuagint, αἰώνιος and αἰών occur frequently; behind both is the Hebrew ‘olâm, which has a wide range of meanings. Tobias 3:6 describes the place of the afterlife as a αἰώνιος – the first place in the Bible in which αἰώνιος unequivocally refers to the world to come. In the Septuagint, ἀΐδιος occurs only in the most recent books: in Wis 7:26, it refers to God, “eternal light”, and in 4Mac 10:15 to the eternal life. Here, the eternal (ἀΐδιος) life of the pious is contrasted to “the eternal [αἰώνιον] perdition of the tyrant”, where the eternal life is ἀΐδιος, really “eternal, without end”, whereas the death of the impious tyrant in the next world is αἰώνιος – a polysemous term indicating the other αἰών, “otherworldly,” possibly “longlasting,” but not strictly eternal. In the New Testament, too, αἰώνιος means “eternal” only in reference to God, otherwise it means “long-lasting” (χρόνοι αἰώνιοι in Romans 16:25–26 and 2 Timothy 1:9 cannot mean “eternal times”). Aἰών means “century, age” or indicates this or the next world. Only ἀΐδιος refers to eternity proper, e.g. in Romans 1:20.14 Aἰώνιος refers to life, death, punishment, and fire in the next world or αἰών (in opposition to this world, κόσμος or καιρός, or χρόνος, cf. e.g. Mark 10:30 and all John). Instead, ἀΐδιος refers only to life – never to death, otherworldly punishment of humans, or fire. In the Bible, only life is said to be properly eternal, without end, a characteristic that essentially and intrinsically belongs to God: “eternal life” is the participation in the life of God, by grace; Christ himself is said to be this life. In the New Testament, there are only two uses of ἀΐδιος. In Romans 1:20, it refers to God’s power and divinity, absolutely eternal; in Jude 6, ἀΐδιος is employed of eternal punishment – not of humans, but of evil angels, who are imprisoned in darkness “with eternal chains [δεσμοῖς ἀϊδίοις] until the judgment of the great day”.15 We are not informed of what will happen afterwards. Why ἀΐδιος of the chains, instead of αἰώνιος, used in the next verse of the fire which the punishments of (human) Sodomites exemplifies? Perhaps because the angels’ chains continue from their incarceration, before the present world, until the judgment that signals the entry into the new αἰών: thus, the term indicates the uninterrupted continuity throughout all time in this world – this could not apply to humans; to them applies rather the sequence of αἰῶνες or generations. In the Septuagint and the New Testament, death, punishment, and fire for humans are described as αἰώνια, pertaining to the αἰών to come or long-lasting, but never as strictly eternal (ἀΐδια). This point – which I made in Terms for Eternity and referred to the doctrine of restoration in Apokatastasis – had previously escaped scholars, but it is so important that most Greek Fathers followed the Biblical usage carefully and called death, punishment, and fire αἰώνια (“otherworldly” or “long-lasting”) but never ἀΐδια or “everlasting, eternal”. This distinction, as I thoroughly demonstrated,16 is maintained by many Greek Fathers, such as Tatian, Clement, Origen, Didymus, Athanasius, the Cappadocians, Evagrius, Theodore of Mopsuestia, John Chrysostom, Proclus of Constantinople, Dionysius, and Maximus.17 They apply both the Biblical αἰώνιος and ἀΐδιος to God  – the latter from the apologists onward, e.g. Aristides and Athenagoras – but they refer ἀΐδιος only to the future life and bliss; to future death, punishment of humans, suffering, and fire only αἰώνιος. Since only αἰώνιος, and never ἀΐδιος, is applied to the punishment of humans in the afterlife in Scripture, Origen could find support in the Biblical usage for his doctrine of universal restoration and the finite duration of hell. Some Latin 43

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theologians who – unlike Ambrose, Cassian, or Eriugena – did not know (enough) Greek, such as Augustine, relied on Latin translations of the Bible in which the differentiation of αἰώνιος and ἀΐδιος was completely blurred: both were generally translated with aeternus or sempiternus. Thus, we shall see, Augustine believed that in Scripture otherworldly death, punishment, and fire are declared to be eternal. His perspective proved immensely influential in the West, among those who did not know Greek. It is significant that, instead, the Latin theologians who knew Greek – such as Victorinus, Ambrose, Jerome, Rufinus, Cassian, and Eriugena – did not think that the Bible proclaims eternal punishment, death, or fire. Eriugena was even a radical supporter of universal salvation.18

Ante-Nicene Christianity Many Greek Fathers followed the Biblical usage, from Clement onwards.19 Origen, an attentive exegete and philologist, one of the greatest Patristic philosophers and theologians, followed the Bible’s linguistic usage closely, confirming it through his argument that, “if life is eternal, death cannot possibly be eternal”.20 As in Scripture, in Origen’s oeuvre αἰώνιος means “absolutely eternal” only if applied to God, but when Origen is not quoting Scripture, he usually employs ἀΐδιος in these contexts.21 He often refers to αἰώνιος life, in the NT formula: the emphasis seems to lie on the life in the next world/αἰών (“the life of the world to come”, as in the final clause of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed). In Philocalia, 1.30.21–23, αἰώνιος life is defined as that of the future αἰών. God gave Scripture as “body for those we existed before us [Hebrews], soul for us, and spirit for those in the αἰών to come, who will obtain life αἰώνιος.” So too, in Commentary on Matthew 15.25, the future life (αἰώνιος) is contrasted with the present (πρόσκαιρος). Again, Origen frequently opposes the ephemeral sensible entities of the present time (πρόσκαιρα) to the invisible and lasting objects of the world to come (αἰώνια, e.g. Mart. 44.16). Consistently with the Septuagint and the NT, Origen also applies αἰώνιος to attributes of God. He speaks of the eternal God (αἰώνιος) and the concealment of the mystery of Jesus for “times immemorial” (χρόνοις αἰωνίοις, Commentary on Romans [AthosLaur.184B64] 16.26) – not “eternal times”. So too, Origen mentions “αἰώνια days and years” or long periods of time, and εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας here signifies “for a very long time” (Commentary on Matthew 15.31.37). Likewise, “very ancient” mountains, not “eternal” mountains, are the ὠρέων αἰωνίων in Selections on the Psalms 12.1536. In Origen, ἀΐδιος occurs much less frequently than αἰώνιος, almost always in reference to God or divine attributes – God’s power, divinity, kingdom, existence, mercy, etc. – meaning “eternal” strictly, limitless in time, or beyond time. Of “eternal life”, he uses ἀΐδιος ζωή to indicate its eternity more unequivocally than through αἰώνιος (On Prayer 29.13.9). In First Principles 3.3.5, Origen posits a succession of αἰῶνες prior to the final apokatastasis, which introduces eternity (ἀϊδιότης). This pertains to apokatastasis, not to the previous sequence of aeons. Origen’s idea of a succession of aeons is different from the Stoic one, because in his view each of them does not repeat the events of the former ones by necessity and Fate, but is different and characterized by the free decisions of rational creatures. Moreover, contrary to the Stoic conception, the sequence of aeons will come to an end in the telos, at apokatastasis, when all will participate in the absolute eternity (ἀϊδιότης) of divine life.22 This opposed not only Stoic fatalism, but also “Gnostic” predestinationism, against which Origen constructed his protology and eschatology. Aeons for him are the diastematic dimensions where rational creatures use their free will and experience the consequences of this, with the assistance of Providence. At the end of the aeons and of purification, they will ­participate in divine eternity. Origen rejected the “gnostic,” Valentinian concept of αἰών 44

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(Aeon, each component of the Pleroma). Tzamalikos (1991) rightly noticed that Origen refused to call αἰών the divine life, but attributed this choice to Origen’s refusal to adopt Plato’s terminology. I suspect that Origen rather refused to appropriate Gnostic terminology: he opposed the “Valentinian” system of Aeons. The Valentinians drew on Plato’s definition of αἰών, but developed it into the notion of “Aeon” as divine and living (Valentinus F5, etc.). Origen, who elaborated his philosophy of history and apokatastasis against Valentinian (perceived) predestinationism, refused to reproduce “Gnostic” terminology, in which every αἰών is a deity of the Pleroma. Therefore, Origen considers an αἰών to be not divine life, but a span of time; it does not belong to the divine sphere, transcending time, but to the diastematic sphere of time, space, dimensions, and extension. So, Origen scorns the gnostic “mythopoiesis concerning Aeons” supposed to exist prior to the Logos (Commentary on John 2.14; Commentary on Matthew 17.33). Indeed, Origen’s Logos preexists all aeons and is their creator: “before any time [χρόνος] and aeon [αἰών] existed, in the beginning was the Logos” (Commentary on John 2.1). Hebr 1:2 declares that the αἰών was created by Christ, so aeons are creatures, made through the Son-Logos (Commentary on John 2.10). “The whole aeon [αἰών] is long in relation to us, but very short in relation to God’s life” (Commentary on Matthew 15.31). In Or. 27.13–14, Origen compares the extension (διάστημα) of a day with that of an entire aeon (αἰών). Indeed, time, according to Origen, depends on the freedom of rational creatures and on God’s Providence, which respects their freedom but is also infallible in bringing all creatures to the eventual salvation (Against Celsus 5.21 etc.): the differentiation of the merits or demerits acquired by rational creatures through their free choices takes place in time, which is the explication of their free choices and extends through several aeons, but finishes with the ἀϊδιότης of apokatastasis (First Principles 2.3.5). Indeed, what is absolutely eternal for Origen is only God and participation (by grace) in divine life (θέωσις). This is why, as mentioned, Origen applied ἀΐδιος (“eternal”) only to the Trinity, her attributes, and eternal life. Christ-Logos-Son is the eternal creator of all aeons; even his historical sacrifice has a universal and eternal validity.23 From cosmological, early imperial debates on time and eternity, Origen imported the formula (οὐκ) ἦν ποτὲ ὅτε οὐκ ἦν into Christian thought, and to the anti-“Arian” debate, where “There was no time when [the Son] was not” became an anti-Arian catchphrase; Origen and Alexander of Aphrodisias – likely well known to Origen – first used it.24 Origen and the Cappadocians, who largely followed him,25 use ἀΐδιος as “absolutely eternal” in the theological discussion on the coeternity and consubstantiality of the hypostases of the Trinity. For Origen, the “coming αἰών” indicates the next world, where sinners will indeed be consigned to the αἰώνιον fire, the fire that pertains to the future world (Sel.Ps.12.1156); it may last for a long time, but it is not, for Origen, eternal. Origen, consistently with Scripture, calls the punishing/purifying fire αἰώνιον, never ἀΐδιον. For he does not deem it absolutely eternal: it is αἰώνιον because it belongs to the next world, as opposed to the fire in this present world, and it lasts as long as the αἰῶνες do. Similarly, Origen, like Scripture, never speaks of ἀΐδιος death, or of ἀΐδια punishments and torments and the like, although he does speak of αἰώνιος death and αἰώνιοι punishments: in the world to come and long lasting. That Origen followed the Bible in never calling death, punishment, or fire eternal is not surprising in the light of his own eschatology and soteriology: fire, punishment, and death imposed by God cannot be but remedial, and therefore cannot be eternal; death itself is followed by resurrection, physical and spiritual, as Nyssen and Evagrius will develop.26 Not only Origen, but, as emerges from Terms for Eternity, many other Patristic thinkers closely followed Biblical usage  – among whom all the supporters of apokatastasis, such as 45

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Didymus, Nyssen, Evagrius, Diodore of Tarsus, Theodore of Mopsuestia, etc., and others, usually not regarded as supporters of apokatastasis, such as Eusebius, Athanasius, Basil, Nazianzen, Dionysius, and Maximus. Now – as I argued extensively in The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis and elsewhere, not only on the grounds of their linguistic use – all these in fact likely had a penchant for the theory of apokatastasis. Origen, Didymus, the Cappadocians, the Antiochenes, and Dionysius are the Patristic thinkers who most reflected on the Biblical meaning of αἰών/αἰώνιος, well aware that often they do not refer to eternity. Origen, or possibly Evagrius – a follower of his and of Nyssen – provided the Christian definition of αἰών: “the time coextensive with the constitution of this world, from the beginning to the end” (Commentary on Ephesians 403). Unlike the Stoic aeons, identical to one another, in infinite sequence, Christian aeons differ from each other, depending on rational creatures’ free choices; their succession terminates in the eventual apokatastasis. While postmortem retribution is commensurate to sins and limited to one or more aeons, blessed life after purification is God’s gift in Origen’s view (Commentary on Romans 22.11) and absolutely eternal, ἀΐδιος.

The Origenist tradition In Patristic philosophy, and especially in Origen and his tradition, the end of the world was related to its beginning. An issue in both Patristic and “pagan” Platonism was whether creation is in time or not, and how to interpret both Genesis and Plato’s Timaeus in this respect. The use of the “perishability axiom” was paramount in this connection in both “pagan” and Christian Platonists.27 Eusebius, an admirer of Origen, attacked, like Origen, those who conceived the cosmos as beginningless and endless (Theophany 1.1), stressing that time was created by God out of nothing (1.5). Origen had argued for creatio ex nihilo28 and insisted that Christ was the creator of the aeons and only the Trinity is absolutely eternal. Likewise, Eusebius states that the Logos is “anterior to all aeons” (Tricennial Oration 1.6). Before the creation of the universe, Christ was generated: he is coeternal with the Father (Theophany 1.4; 2.3). Christ, God’s Logos, is a Mediator who, although eternal and beyond time qua God, can operate in time (ibidem 1.5); he is even eternally present in the cosmos (Sepulchre of Christ 13.1). Christ is a Mediator because he took up creaturely nature and, qua Logos, contains (Middle-Platonically) the models of all creatures (ibidem 1.4), as already Bardaisan, Clement, and Origen had described him, following Philo.29 Eusebius supported the Son’s coeternity with the Father, calling him ἀΐδιος, who corules without beginning or end (Tricennial Oration 2.1), coeternal with the Father: so, Eusebius claims with Origen, it is impossible to state “there was a time in which He was not” (Demonstration of the Gospel 4.3.3;5.1.15).30 To describe the fullness of times inaugurated by Christ, Eusebius significantly uses Origen’s description of apokatastasis: God’s Logos is known by all humanity; Fate and necessity are defeated; humanity is reconciled to God, and peace and love are restored (Theophany 2.76). This is a prospective description. Time is the realm of history, and Eusebius with his Chronicon ordered it from Abraham to his own day, to show that Christianity had a more ancient pedigree than polytheism.31 His Ecclesiastical History developed this line.32 Whatever the date(s) of its composition,33 Eusebius based his Christian history on Africanus and Bardaisan,34 but projected his theology and eschatology towards eternity. Didymus, a close follower of Origen, also shows awareness of the multiple meanings of αἰών and αἰώνιος (Commentary on Job 76.11ff.): if αἰώνιος refers to God, it means “absolutely eternal,”

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beginningless and endless; when it refers to humans, it indicates this life or its continuation in the life to come: It must be noted that αἰώνιος has many meanings: in “αἰώνιος God”, it means beginningless and endless; for God is called αἰώνιος by virtue of having neither a beginning nor an end of existence. But αἰώνιος is something different when used in “things unseen are αἰώνια”: for these are not αἰώνια in the way God is, but because they do not perish but remain forever in the same condition. Aἰώνιος is meant differently again when it is measured against present time, as when it is said: “the sons of this αἰών are wiser in their generation”; for the time that extends over the life of a human is also called an αἰών. Indeed, it is laid down concerning the Hebrew who did not wish to be freed in the seventh year, that “he will be your slave unto the αἰών”: for no slave of a human remains forever, even after his death. In this sense Paul too writes: “if flesh causes my brother to stumble, I shall not eat flesh through the αἰών,”35 using this term in place of “throughout my life”. Εternal life, which lasts beyond all aeons, is “υr̓ περαιώνιος salvation” (Commentary on Zechariah 2.370): it goes beyond all aeons, which makes it clear that an αἰών is not eternity. Salvation, unlike punishment and death, which can only be αἰώνιοι, does not come to an end with the end of aeons. The same awareness was present in many other Patristic writers, including Origen and Nyssen. Nyssen was deeply influenced by Origen and the most philosophically minded of the Cappadocians. He abundantly uses the philosophical adjective ἀΐδιος, in reference to the Trinity, for its eternity a parte ante and a parte post; its attributes, the Son – against “Neo-Arianism”36 – and eternal life, which awaits all humans by Christ’s grace (On the Three Days’ Interval GNO 9.278.10).37 Eternal life is God’s life, in which humans will participate (Homilies on the Song GNO 6.69.3) after the end of times and aeons. In Or.cat. 16.63, ἀΐδιος life is a gift that was awaiting us from the beginning and to which we ought to return; it is identified with God and Christ at Against Eunomius II 1.536. The ἀΐδιος life of God is that which traverses the αἰῶνες (ibid. II 1.457), and the life of God is that in which the blessed will participate. In Homilies on the Song GNO 6.69.3, it is promised to the human being that he will endure for eternity (πρὸς τὸ ἀΐδιον), together with him who is forever (ἀεὶ ὄντι). Εxamples could multiply. Gregory employs ἀΐδιος in connection with life because he conceives of it as a strictly eternal life in the ἀϊδιότης of apokatastasis, after the end of the αἰῶνες: it will last for eternity, beyond time, together with God, who is adiastematic. Divine eternity, in which humans will participate, is not an infinite extension in time, but transcends all time. For Gregory, God’s eternity is closely related to God’s infinity, on which also Gregory’s conception of epektasis depends.38 For God transcends every interval of space or time. God’s nature is absolutely eternal (ἀΐδιος) because it is not situated in time or place: it is ἀδιάστατος (Against Eunomius I 1.371). Οrigen mentions “this temporal extension” (τὸ χρονικὸν τοῦτο διάστημα, Fragment on Matthew 487), and employs διάστημα in reference to intervals of time repeatedly.39 Indeed, another convergence between Origen and Nyssen is the description of eternal divine life as ἀδιάστατος, a term already used by Philo and, then, by Plotinus, who, like Origen, also employs διάστασις and διάστημα in reference to time. Gregory opposes the corporeal nature, διαστηματική, to the incorporeal one, which is ἀδιάστατος,40 because it is uncreated and therefore anterior to the ages (προαιώνιος), which, as Origen already taught, were created by Christ.41 This is why the divine life “is not in time, but time comes from it” (ἐξ ἐκείνης ὁ χρόνος, Aganst Eunomius, I.365, GNO 1.135.2). For God “transcends creation”

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(ὑπὲρ τὴν κτίσιν) and “has nothing to do with any dimensional concept” (παντὸς διαστηματικοῦ νοήματος κεχωρισμένη, Aganst Eunomius, I.363; GNO 1.134.13–16). The eternity [τὸ ἀΐδιον] of God’s life . . . is apprehended as always in being (ἀεὶ μὲν ἐν τῷ εἶναι), but does not allow the thought that it ever was not, or will not be [τοῦ δὲ ποτὲ μὴ εἶναι καὶ ποτὲ μὴ ἔσεσθαι]: (Against Eunomius, I.666; GNO 1.217.26–29) Gregory takes on Origen’s formula οὐκ ἦν ποτε ὅτε οὐκ ἦν, applying it to all the Trinity. Gregory posits God as ἄπειρον and evil as limited qua God’s opposite (Making of Man 21). He may be correcting Plotinus, who described absolute evil as ἄπειρον (Enneads 1.8.9), following Plato. Gregory realized that, if evil is ἄπειρον and the One-Good-God too is ἄπειρον, there is not enough opposition between the two. Like many Patristic thinkers, Gregory never refers ἀΐδιος to otherworldly punishment, death, or evil, which “is not from eternity [ἐξ ἀϊδίου] and cannot subsist eternally” (On the Inscriptions of the Psalms GNO5.100.21–5;101.3). Evagrius, who was influenced by Nyssen more than generally assumed, took on Nyssen’s tenet of evil’s finitude and adventitiousness: “There was a time/state when evil did not exist, and there will come one when it will no more exist” (Kephalaia Gnostica 1.40).42 This point came from Origen, who claimed that evil “is nonbeing . . . was not created through the Logos . . . did not exist in the beginning and will not exist forever” (Commentary on John 2.13); “there was a state in which evil did not exist, and there will come one in which it will no more exist” (Exposition of Proverbs 5). Also, Evagrius’ Kepahalaia Gnostica 1.1, “There is nothing opposed to the First Good, since it is Goodness in its essence; now, there is nothing opposed to the Essence”, comes from Gregory: “Good is limited only by its opposite, but Good’s nature is not susceptible of evil, so it will progress toward the unlimited and infinite” (On the Soul, GNO III/3.71.9–11). Gregory employs αἰώνιος mostly in Biblical reminiscences, where it means “eternal” only in reference to God, whereas in philosophical discussions which demand their own vocabulary, he uses ἀΐδιος. It is often employed in reference to life in the world to come. Like Origen, Gregory, when he speaks of life in the beyond, uses “ἀΐδιος life” if he wishes to indicate its eternity, and “αἰώνιος life” to emphasize that it will be in the next world, in very many instances (so, too, “αἰώνιος home” in heaven, “αἰώνιος glory, αἰώνιος blessedness”, etc.). The connection between αἰώνιος life and the αἰών to come is especially clear in Christian Education, GNO 8/1.79.4, where the αἰώνιος joy that characterizes the future life is “that which the souls of the saints will enjoy in the future age that is expected” (ἐν τῷ προσδοκομένῳ αἰῶνι). Death, fire, and punishment are merely αἰώνια, for they will be commensurate to sins and will cease either earlier or at the end of the αἰών, with apokatastasis, in eternity. But when he speaks of destruction, death, misfortune, punishment, or the fire in the future life, Gregory uses only αἰώνιος (e.g. ὄλεθρος/κόλασις/αἰσχύνη αἰώνιος, πῦρ αἰώνιον), never ἀΐδιος. For he holds that the purifying fire will be applied to sinners in the αἰών, which will end with the apokatastasis (absolute eternity: ἀϊδιότης), and since life will endure in eternity, but not death and punishment, and all evil will disappear, only life can be called really eternal (ἀΐδιος), not death. Already Origen argued so in Commentary on Romans 5.7, concluding: “if life is eternal, death cannot possibly be eternal” (si vita aeterna est, mors esse non possit aeterna).43 Death, fire, and punishment are merely αἰώνια, for they will exist in the future αἰών, but will cease at the end of the αἰών. In Inf. 91.23–92.2, the use of αἰώνιος in reference to purification in the next world makes it clear that it is not a question of eternal punishment, but of a purification which will have an end: “after long periods of time [χρόνων μακρῶν περιόδοις], through purification in the future age [διὰ τῆς αἰωνίας καθάρσεως],44 God will return this person again to the totality of those who 48

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are saved. . . . This will be absolutely clear to all those who consider God’s power” and nature, with reference to Jesus’ assertion that the salvation of sinners is “impossible among humans, but everything is possible to God”. Gregory states explicitly that purification, far from being eternal, will come to an end with the sinner’s reintegration-restoration. In On the Soul, Gregory uses αἰών and αἰώνιος in reference to purifying punishment, while explicitly denying that it is eternal: the αἰών in question is that between the death of the individual and universal apokatastasis, after which there no longer is any aeon, but rather the perfect and immutable ἀϊδιότης of all creatures in God, when (in Origen’s words) “no one will be in the αἰών any longer, but God will be all in all”.45 As seen, Gregory depends on Plotinus – treated earlier – in the understanding of eternity as endless life, but also on Origen: only God is eternal and infinite; evil is neither.46 Since evil is not eternal, otherworldly punishment cannot be either. It may only διαιωνίζειν or endure through aeons. Punishment “is measured [συνδιαμετρεῖται] out over an entire aeon [αἰῶνα]” (On the Soul 101.17–43). This parallels the expression εἰς αἰώνιόν τι διάστημα, where διάστημα refers to a limited interval, as συνδιαμετρεῖται confirms, since infinite is beyond measure, eternity beyond διαστήματα. We shall pay our debts “up to the last coin”: thus, we shall come to an end of this payment and complete purification from sin. Precisely by πῦρ αἰώνιον (On the Soul 100A), souls will be purified for the purpose of salvation: it will destroy evil (On the Soul 157A) and cease when such purification is achieved. Even Epiphanius had to add ἀϊδίως to διαιωνίζειν to mean “endure eternally” (Panarion 2.160.16), as διαιωνίζειν per se did not imply eternity.47

Some later Greek authors Basil and Nazianzen, who stressed the coeternity of the Son to the Father against “neo-Arians”, as Nyssen did, also used αἰών in the sense of the whole of history, like Origen.48 The Antiochene Diodore of Tarsus49 was likewise aware that αἰών does not mean “eternity” in Scripture and adduces the following: “These shall go away into αἰώνιος [l-ʿôlām] punishment, the righteous into αἰώνιος life” and “You shall not wash my feet l-ʿôlām” and “No man shall dwell in Babylon l-ʿôlām”,50 while many generations have dwelled there. Conclusion: “in the New Testament, l-ʿôlām [αἰώνιος] does not mean ‘without end’.” Diodore’s disciple, Theodore of Mopsuestia, in the prologue to his commentary on Psalm 2, interprets “αἰώνιος condemnation” as “future condemnation” (damnatio futura), not “eternal” (aeterna). That of two aeons of divine economy is a characteristic of his thought: the present aeon is a training place for souls; due to Adam’s sin God made humans mortal, but providentially (Commentary on Galatians 1:4). Very close to Origen’s is Theodore’s definition of αἰών (Commentary on Galatians 1:4), not as “eternity” but as “an interval of time,” διάστημα χρόνου, from the short interval of a person’s life to the longest, from the foundation of the world to the second coming of Christ. Even in reference to Christ, Theodore refuses to understand αἰώνιος as “eternal” (Fragment on Hebrews 207.1): Christ is “the αἰώνιος high priest” (Hebrews 6:20) because all the aeons/generations (αἰῶνες), believing in him, will be led by him to God. In Theodore, ἀΐδιος never refers to future punishment, fire, or death in the next world – which Theodore describes only as αἰώνιος – but is applied to the future life, as in many Patristic authors. Likewise, Maximus the Confessor used only αἰώνιος, never ἀΐδιος, to describe otherworldly punishment, death, or fire.51 Dionysius also alerts readers that in Scripture, αἰών often does not mean eternity: “in Scripture, sometimes there is mention of an αἰών that is in time and of an αἰώνιος time” to denote a distant time, remote, or indeterminate, long, but not eternal: “therefore, one must not consider things called αἰώνια in Scripture to be coeternal with God 49

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[συναίδια θεῷ], who is rather prior to every αἰών” (Divine Names 216.14), with Origenian reminiscences; “Jesus, being simple, became composed; the eternal [ὁ ἀΐδιος] took on a temporal extension [παράτασιν . . . χρονικήν]” (ibid. 1.4). Proclus, who not only impacted the Christian Platonist Dionysius, but was also familiar with Origen’s ideas, including that of apokatastasis  – which he related to ἐπιστροφή, like Dionysius and Eriugena later  – elaborated on time and eternity in Platonic Theology and ­Commentary on Plato’s Timaeus. He spoke of a Day itself and a Year itself (ἐνιαυτός) by absorbing Aristotle’s theology of the unmoved mover into Platonic physics, and Porphyry’s discussions of eternity (αἰών), time, and the Year.52 The main difference between Proclus’ and Origen’s theories of apokatastasis resides in their concepts of time and eternity: an infinity of time with infinite apokatastatic cycles for Proclus, but a finite sequence of aeons for Origen, who believed in the Biblical “end of the world” after which there will come apokatastasis, once and for all.53

The origins of eternal punishment In the West, Augustine’s conception of time and eternity, the temporality of creatures and the eternity of God, and the relation between time and soul – already posited by Origen and Plotinus – are analysed in Books 11–12 of the Confessions.54 Whereas eternity, far from being an infinite extension in time, is a “lack of extension” and thus timeless, time is an “extension/ dimension of the soul” (distentio animi): distentio corresponds to διάστημα/διάστασις and “lacking extension” to ἀδιάστατος.55 Eternity was not, nor will be, but is an eternal present, and so it represents the fullness of being. These are typical of God. The Plotinian background for this conception, in both Nyssen and Augustine, is evident: Plotinus too defined eternity as ἀδιάστατος, an eternal present, proper to the fullness of Being. Tzamalikos (1991) has also proposed to see Origen’s influence behind Augustine’s conception of time and eternity. Also in light of recent and ongoing studies on the influence of Origen on Augustine,56 he may be right. Augustine, knowing Greek poorly, missed the distinction between αἰώνιος and ἀΐδιος, lost in Latin Biblical translations of both with aeternus. This linguistic misunderstanding probably contributed to the condemnation of the doctrine of apokatastasis, which entailed the non-­ eternity of the otherworldly fire (Biblical πῦρ αἰώνιον is not πῦρ ἀΐδιον).57 Augustine first attacked apokatastasis overtly in 413, in De fide et operibus 15.2, and attests that some misericordes adduced 1 Cor 3:11–15 – on those who are saved immediately and those who are saved “through fire” – to support the saving aim of otherworldly punishments. In 415, Augustine published a short refutation of Origenism in Ad Orosium,58 where he maintained that the senseperceptible world was not created for the purification of fallen souls and ignis aeternus must mean eternal fire, otherwise the eternal beatitude of the righteous could not be eternal (8.10; cf. 5.5). This argument was already adduced against the doctrine of universal apokatastasis in a passage ascribed to Basil and will return again in Justinian.59 Origen had refuted it in advance in his Commentary on Romans through a syllogism grounded in a metaphysical argument and on 1Cor 15:26,60 to the effect that, if life is eternal, death cannot be eternal – the opposite of Augustine’s claim. Augustine’s argument is weakened not only by Origen’s anticipated counter-argument, but also by linguistic data: as seen, in the Bible only life is called ἀΐδιος, absolutely “eternal”, whereas the otherworldly punishment, death, and fire applied to humans are described, never as ἀΐδια, but as αἰώνια. Aἰώνιος means “eternal” only in Platonic philosophical vocabulary, “atemporal”, whereas in the Bible and related literature it means “otherworldly”, “remote in past or future”, “of long duration”, or “mundane”. In the Bible, αἰώνιος means “eternal” only 50

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if it refers to God, or what refers to God. This terminological distinction is maintained by many Greek Patristic authors,61 but in the Latin world it was blurred by the indiscriminate translation of both adjectives with aeternus, understood as “eternal, without end”, and thus fire, punishment, and death in the other world were considered to be eternal. So, Latin authors ignorant of Greek such as Augustine (not Ambrose or Eriugena) missed it. This is why in On the Acts of 1.3.10 Augustine states: The Church very deservedly curses Origen’s doctrine that even those whom the Lord says will have to be punished with an eternal torment, even the devil and his angels, will be purified and finally liberated from their punishment, albeit after a very long time, and will join the saints who reign with God, sharing in their blessedness. . . . Whoever claims that their punishment, declared by the Lord to be eternal, can come to an end shares Origen’s abominable view. Here aeternus renders αἰώνιος (in reference to κόλασις), which does not mean “eternal” but indicates that the punishment takes place in the other world, for a certain period, even long, but not necessarily eternal. In the Latin world, however, it was more difficult to grasp this, given that only one adjective, aeternus (or sempiternus), was used to render Greek αἰώνιος and ἀΐδιος, and was understood as strictly eternal.62

Notes 1 Cushman 1953; Ramelli and Konstan 2007/2013; Ramelli 2015a. On theories of time an eternity in Greek philosophy see Lloyd 1976; Wilberding 2016. 2 Analysis in Ramelli and Konstan 2007/2013: 5–11. 3 These terms also kept more traditional meanings, such as “age” (Gorgias 448C6) and “continuous” (Republic 363D2). 4 See Ramelli and Konstan 2007/2013: 12–17. 5 Analysis in Ramelli and Konstan 2007/2013: 17–28. 6 Boys-Stones 2018: ch. 5. 7 See Smith1996; Remes 2008: 89–93 on time and eternity in “pagan” Neoplatonism, esp. Plotinus. 8 Smith 1996: 198–203. 9 Majumdar 2007. 10 Ramelli and Konstan 2007/2013: 21–23 on Porphyry; 23–26 on Iamblichus. 11 Analysis ibidem 28–30. 12 Examined ibidem 30–33; Ramelli 2015a: 36–44. Further work on pagan philosophical notions of apokatastasis is progressing. 13 Ramelli and Konstan 2007/2013: 37–49. 14 On Paul’s view of time, eternity, and restoration: e.g. Ramelli 2013a: ch. 1; “Relevance”; “Philo and Paul”; Still 2017, esp. ch. 1, by L. Ann Jervis on Paul’s view of time and Rom 9:1–13; ch. 6 by Jonathan Linebaugh on time in Rom 9–11. 15 Cf. 2 Peter 2:4, evil angels have been sent by God to Tartarus, “to be held for judgment”. 16 Ramelli and Konstan 2007/2013: 82–240; see also Ramelli 2008a, 2009a, 2010, 2015a: “Aἰώνιος and αἰών”. 17 Ramelli and Konstan 2007/2013: 82–225. 18 Ramelli 2013a: 773–815. Further work ongoing. 19 Ramelli and Konstan 2007/2013: 108–116; Ramelli 2012b. 20 Analysis in Ramelli 2013a:162–168. 21 Ramelli 2008a; Ramelli and Konstan 2007/2013: 116–128. 22 Ramelli 2015a: 10–13. 23 See Ramelli 2008b. 24 Argument in Ramelli 2014b; a monograph on Origen in preparation, ch. 5. 51

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2 5 See, e.g., Ramelli 2011b, 2015c; Dakovac 2016: 819; Suh 2018; Mikhail 2016. 26 Ramelli 2017b. 27 As argued in Ramelli 2018. 28 Origen; Dialogue of Adamantius. 29 See my “Clement’s Notion of the Logos”. 30 Ramelli and Konstan 2007/2013: 142–157. 31 See also Grafton and Williams 2006, with my review in Adamantius 14 (2008) 637–641. 32 Cameron 1983: 71–88. 33 E.g., Louth 1990 hypothesised that the work was first published late in 313, reedited around 315, and finalised in 325/6. 34 See my Bardaisan; Narrative. 35 1Cor 8:13. 36 Characteristic of his usage is Against Eunomius 1.9.4, where, in reference to the Son, ἀΐδιος is made to correspond to άγέννητος and ἀτελεύτητος: “eternal” means ungenerated and imperishable. 37 Full analysis in Ramelli and Konstan 2007/2013: 172–184. 38 This in turn partially depends on Origen. See Ramelli 2019a. 39 Commentary on Matthew 15.28;34. 40 On the Soul 48; Making of Man 23.3; Against Eunomius 12, where his adherence to Origen’s vocabulary is evident. 41 Against Eunomius I 361; GNO 1.133.27–134.8. 42 Full commentary in Evagrius’ Kephalaia Gnostica. For the debt to Origen, see my “Biographical and Theological Relations”. 43 Commentary in Ramelli 2013a: 162–165. 44 If people are said to be saved after this purification, then the latter cannot be “eternal” and αἰώνιος means long lasting or pertaining to the future aeon. 45 See Ramelli 2010 and full commentary in Ramelli 2007a. 46 Ramelli 2019a. 47 See Ramelli 2019b. 48 E.g. Gregory Nazianzen 5.25.136 = Patrologia Graeca 36.160D. On time and eternity in Basil and Nazianzen: Ramelli and Konstan 2007/2013: 184–199. 49 Ap. Solomon of Bostra, Book of the Bee 60. 50 Matthew 25:46, John 13:8, Isaiah 13:20. 51 Ramelli & Konstan 2007/2013: 222–226. 52 See Vargas 2017. 53 Ramelli 2017a; Gerson 2018; a work on “pagan” theories of apokatastasis is in progress. 54 On Augustine’s treatment of time see Ramelli 2015a: 189–200; Karfíková, Von Augustin, 32–46 on Plotinus and Augustine on time. 55 Van Dusen 2014 interprets distentio animi as a “dilation” not of the mind, but of one’s sensory experience. 56 Ramelli 2013b; Heidl 2003. Further work is underway concerning Origen’s influence on Augustine. 57 Ramelli 2013b. 58 Patrologia Latina 42.669–678. 59 For Basil’s and Justinian’s passages analysis in Ramelli 2013a: 344–372; 731–732; for Justinian, research on the rejection of apokatastasis and its multiple causes is underway. 60 In the end, “the last enemy will be annihilated: death”. 61 Demonstration in Ramelli and Konstan 2007/2013. 62 Indeed, only after his rejection of the doctrine of apokatastasis did Augustine adopt a tripartition into hell, purgatory, and paradise. The evolution of his thought helps explain scholars’ disagreement concerning the presence of the doctrine of purgatory in Augustine. This seems to emerge e.g. in Confessions 9.13, Enchiridion 110, City of God 21.13, on poenae temporariae along with eternal punishment, and 21.24, on punishments that the souls of the dead suffer before resurrection. Augustine thinks that impious unbelievers and Christians who have sinned very seriously will never be released from punishment (City of God 21.24,27; Fid.op. 16.30; Enchiridion 69). He deems liberation from punishment in purgatory possible only before or after the resurrection, but not after the condemnation to eternal fire ratified by the final Judgment. In City of God 21.13, Augustine, after criticising the “Platonists” who denied the eternity of hell (sempiternas poenas) and maintained that suffering will have only a cathartic function, remarks upon temporary punishment (temporarias poenas) in the present and the future world. 52

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Bibliography Baghos, M. (2010), “St Basil’s Eschatological Vision”, Phronesis 25, 85–103. Balás, D. L. (1976), “Eternity and Time in Contra Eunomium”, in H. Dörrie (ed.), Gregor von Nyssa und die Philosophie, Leiden: Brill, 128–155. Boys-Stones, G. (2018), Platonist Philosophy 80 BC to AD 250: An Introduction and Collection of Sources in Translation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Cameron, A. (1983), “Eusebius of Caesarea and the Rethinking of History”, in E. Gabba (ed.), Tria corda: FS Momigliano, Como: Edizioni New Press, 71–88. Cushman, R. (1953), “Greek and Christian Views of Time”, Journal of Religion 33, 254–265. Dakovac, A. (2016), “Apocatastasis and Predestination”, Bogoslovska smotra 86.4, 813–826. Gerson, L. (2018), Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2018.03.32: http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2018/2018-03-32.htm. Grafton, A. and M. Williams (2006), Christianity and the Transformation of the Book, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hausheer, H. (1937), “St. Augustine’s Conception of Time”, Philosophical Review 46.5, 503–512. Heidl, G. (2003), Origen’s Influence on the Young Augustine, Piscataway: Gorgias Press. Karfíková, L. (2015), Von Augustin zu Abaelard, Fribourg, SZ: Academic Press. Lloyd, G. E. R. (1976), “Views on Time in Greek Thought”, in L. Gardet (ed.), Cultures and Time, Paris: The UNESCO Press, 117–147. Louth, A. (1990), “The Date of Eusebius’ Historia Ecclesiastica”, Journal of Theological Studies 41, 111–123. Majumdar, D. (2007), Plotinus on the Appearance of Time and the World of Sense, Aldershot: Ashgate. Mikhail, Maged (2016), The Legacy of Demetrius of Alexandria, London: Routledge. Morison, J. (1971), “Augustine’s Two Theories of Time”, New Scholasticism 45, 600–610. Ramelli, I. (2006), “Aion”, in Enciclopedia Filosofica, 2nd ed., I vol., Milan: Bompianai, 217. Ramelli, I. (2007a), Gregorio di Nissa sull’anima e la resurrezione, Milan: Bompianai. Ramelli, I. (2007b), “Christian Soteriology and Christian Platonism”, Vigiliae Christianae 61, 313–356. Ramelli, I. (2008a), “Origene ed il lessico dell’eternità”, Adamantius 14, 100–129. Ramelli, I. (2008b), “The Universal and Eternal Validity of Jesus’s High-Priestly Sacrifice”, in Richard J. Bauckham, Daniel Driver, Trevor Hart and Nathan Macdonald (eds.), A Cloud of Witnesses: The Theology of Hebrews in Its Ancient Contexts, London: T. and T. Clark, 210–221. Ramelli, I. (2008c), “Origen’s Exegesis of Jeremiah: Resurrection Announced Throughout the Bible and Its Twofold Conception”, Augustinianum 48, 59–78. Ramelli, I. (2009a), “Origen, Bardaisan, and the Origin of Universal Salvation”, Harvard Theological Review 10, 135–168. Ramelli, I. (2009b), Bardaisan of Edessa, Piscataway: Gorgias Press. Ramelli, I. (2010), “Aἰώνιος and αἰών in Origen and Gregory of Nyssa”, Studia Patristica 47, 57–62. Ramelli, I. (2011a), “Gregory of Nyssa’s Trinitarian Theology in Tunc et ipse”, in M. Berghaus and V. Drecoll (eds.), Gregory of Nyssa: The Minor Treatises on Trinitarian Theology, Leiden: Brill, 445–478. Ramelli, I. (2011b), “Origen’s Anti-Subordinationism and Its Heritage in the Nicene and Cappadocian Line”, Vigiliae Christianae 65, 21–49. Ramelli, I. (2012a), “Apokatastasis in Coptic Gnostic Texts”, Journal of Computer Science and Technology 14, 33–45. Ramelli, I. (2012b), “Stromateis VII and Clement’s Hints of Apokatastasis”, in M. Havrda et al. (eds.), The Seventh Book of the Stromateis, Leiden: Brill, 239–257. Ramelli, I. (2013a), The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis, Leiden: Brill. Ramelli, I. (2013b), “Origen and Augustine”, Numen 60, 280–307. Ramelli, I. (2014a), “Eternity”, in A. DiBerardino (ed.), Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity, 1 vol., Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 841–844. Ramelli, I. (2014b), “Alexander of Aphrodisias: A  Source of Origen’s Philosophy?” Philosophie Antique 14, 237–290. Ramelli, I. (2015a), Tempo ed eternità in età antica e patristica, Assisi: Cittadella. Ramelli, I. (2015b), Evagrius’ Kephalaia Gnostika, Leiden: Brill.

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Ramelli, I. (2015c), “Ethos and Logos: A  Second-Century Apologetical Debate Between ‘Pagan’ and Christian Philosophers”, Vigiliae Christianae 69.2, 123–156. Ramelli, I. (2015d), “The Addai-Abgar Narrative: Its Development Through Literary Genres and Religious Agendas”, in I. Ramelli and J. Perkins (eds.), Early Christian and Jewish Narrative: The Role of Religion in Shaping Narrative Forms, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 205–245. Ramelli, I. (2017a), “Proclus of Constantinople and Apokatastasis”, in D. Butorac and D. Layne (eds.), Proclus and His Legacy, Berlin: De Gruyter, 95–122. Ramelli, I. (2017b), “Gregory Nyssen’s and Evagrius’ Relations: Origen’s Heritage and Neoplatonism”, Studia Patristica 84, 165–231. Ramelli, I. (2018), “Gregory of Nyssa”, in S. Cartwright and A. Marmodoro (eds.), A History of Mind and Body in Late Antiquity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 283–305. Ramelli, I. (2019a), “Apokatastasis and Epektasis in Hom, in Cant.”, in G. Maspero et al. (eds.), Gregory of Nyssa: In Canticum Canticorum, Leiden: Brill. Ramelli, I. (2019b), “Gregory and Evagrius”, in G. Maspero (ed.), Mystical Eschatology in Gregory of Nyssa, Leuven: Peeters, Ramelli, I. (2019c), “Clement’s Notion of the Logos: ‘All Things as One’. Its Alexandrian Background in Philo and Its Developments in Origen and Nyssen”, in Z. Pleše (ed.), Alexandrian Personae: Scholarly Culture and Religious Traditions in Ancient Alexandria (1st ct. BCE –, 4ct. CE), Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. Ramelli, I. (forthcoming), “The Relevance of Greco-Roman Literary Themes for New Testament Interpretation”, in Handbook of Historical Exegesis. Ramelli, I. and D. Konstan (2007/2013), Terms for Eternity, Piscataway: Gorgias Press. Remes, P. (2008), Neoplatonism, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Smith, Andrew (1996), “Eternity and Time”, in L. P. Gerson (ed.), Cambridge Companion to Plotinus, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 196–216. Still, T. D. (ed.). (2017), God and Israel: Providence and Purpose in Romans 9–11, Waco: Baylor University Press. Suh, M. (2018), “Τὸ πνεῦμα in 1 Corinthians 5:5”, Viiliae Christianae 72, 121–141. Teske, R. (1996), Paradoxes of Time in Saint Augustine, Milwaukee: Marquette University Press. Tzamalikos, P. (1991), The Concept of Time in Origen, Bern: Peter Lang. van Dusen, D. (2014), The Space of Time, Leiden: Brill. Vargas, A. (2017), “Proclus on Time and the Units of Time”, in B. Dutorac and D. Layne (eds.), Proclus and His Legacy, Berlin: De Gruyter, 83–93. Wilberding, J. (2016), “Eternity in Ancient Philosophy”, in Y. Melamed (ed.), Eternity: A History, Oxford: Oxford University Press, chapter 1.

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5 Creation in Early Christianity George Karamanolis

Introduction The question of creation or cosmogony was central to Christians from very early on. This becomes clear from the fact that early Christian thinkers devote considerable space in their works in addressing this question. The task, however, turns out to be very demanding as well as the source of continuous debate among them. One source of difficulty was the close connection of the question of how the world (the kosmos) has come into being with the question of which the principles in the world are. Christians tend to see the two questions as part of the bigger issue of how God relates to the world. In connecting the two questions, a cosmological and an ontological one, Christians continue the tradition of the Timaeus, a very influential text in antiquity and also the one on which Philo of Alexandria based his explanation of the cosmogony in Genesis. In this work, Plato investigates how the world has come about and speaks of a special kind of principle that accounts for its generation, the divine craftsman (demiurge; Timaeus 28b6), an intellect that crafts the kosmos by modelling it on the totality of intelligible Forms.1 A further principle involved is the necessity (anankē), because the divine craftsman needs first to craft his materials, the four elements of Empedocles, earth, air, fire and water, using a formless medium (50c2), the so-called receptacle (hypodochē; 49a6). Plato speaks of the elements as “principles of all” (48b7–8), yet he names the demiurge as “the main principle of generation” (29e4), while he speaks of the Forms as being instrumental to creation (28a7), and he specifies that necessity is an “auxiliary cause” (46c7, 46e6). The connection of the question of how the world has been created with that of the principles in the world was facilitated by the ambiguity of the term kosmos: it can refer to the earth,2 the heaven,3 the sensible universe as a whole,4 or the totality of beings, including gods, intellects and souls.5 In the Timaeus, Plato speaks of the generation of kosmos in the sense of the universe, which includes sensible beings in earth and heaven, but also souls, including the world soul, which accounts for the world’s life and orderly motion. The principles, then, of which the Timaeus speaks, are principles of both the sensible and the intelligible worlds. This idea guides Origen to do the same in his First Principles, to speak of principles of the sensible world but also of souls, angels, and spirits – God is the creator of both the intelligible and the sensible realms.6 55

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However wide the application of the term kosmos may be, though, its meaning clearly is order, good arrangement: the kosmos is the successful outcome of an ordering activity, expressed by the verb kosmein,7 an activity that reveals wisdom and goodness, as the Timaeus emphasizes (29ab, 29e1, 37a1). The Platonist version of principles was appealing to Christians, as it had been already to Philo of Alexandria, who, as I have said, drew heavily on the Timaeus in his interpretation of Genesis.8 The reasons for this appeal are, first, the obvious similarity of Plato’s demiurge to the creator God of Genesis. For while the majority of ancient philosophers agreed that the universe is marked by order, intelligibility and goodness, only Plato suggested that God creates the world by imposing on it these features from outside. Second, the Christians were attracted by the teleology of the Timaeus, the idea that the world is created as expression of God’s goodness and is meant to be good and beautiful. This view, however, was resisted by the Gnostics, who in one way or another maintained that the world as a whole or in large part is essentially bad. Marcion, for instance, probably claimed that “God . . . is the creator of bad things, takes delight in wars, is inconsistent also in temper and at variance within himself ” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.25.1). For Valentinus and his followers, on the other hand, the sublunary region, which is created by the creator, is bad, while higher, non-created regions, are perfect.9 Marcion and the Gnostics distinguished sharply between God-the-creator-of-this-world, the God of the Old Testament, whom they considered ignorant, bad, irascible and envious, and a higher God, the Christian God of the New Testament, whom they considered wise and essentially good (Tertullian, Against Marcion 1.6). Both Platonists, such as Plotinus,10 and many early Christian thinkers fought hard against the view that the world is bad, the product of an ignorant and bad creator. Both the advocates of the essential goodness of the world and of its essential badness agree, however, that the world involves features of both kinds: order, harmonious change, and virtue; and disorder, disastrous change, and vice. And they also agree that the world must be similar in character to its creator. Those who maintain that the world is predominantly good and ordered postulate a creator of similar nature that accounts for these qualities, while their opponents who held that the world is essentially full of badness paint the creator accordingly. Their common element is the belief that inferences can be made from the nature of the world about the nature of its principle on the grounds that the latter accounts for the world’s essential characteristics. We find this tendency in the ps.-Aristotelian On the World,11 which sets out to show that the universe is harmoniously and wisely arranged by God, who, however, accounts for the orderly universe not directly but through a power stemming from him (396b28–396b30). The treatise wants to teach is that God is responsible for the kind of being the world is and that he is constantly present in the world, albeit distant from it. This tendency becomes heightened with the Christians, Gnostics and not-Gnostics alike, who insist that the world is a reflection of God himself,12 yet they disagree about what the essential features of the world that can be then ascribed to God.13 Tertullian, for instance, claims that God created the world so that he can be known (Against Marcion 2.6), and he further suggests that creation is the only evidence through which we know God (On Penance 5.4); it is the creation, he argues, that manifests the divine attributes, such as goodness, rationality, justice (Against Marcion 2.5, 7, 12). It was the concern to establish such a relation between God and the world’s constitution that motivated many Christian philosophers to focus on cosmogony. Irenaeus, for instance, suggests that denying creation amounts to erring about God (Against Heresies 1.12.1), for creation, he claims, teaches us what kind of being God is, namely wise, loving and providential (3.24.1–2, 25.1). This reasoning must be inspired by Timaeus 29e, which can be understood as implying 56

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that the world’s beauty points to a good creator as its cause. This Christian strategy, however, has its limits. For no matter how God’s involvement with the world is explained, there remains the question of how badness occurs in the world, since the non-Gnostic Christians wanted to deny that God as the principle of the world is responsible for it too.14 Badness, however, is arguably also a feature of the world, and as such it needs to be accounted for. One possible way out would be to opt for a form of dualism, namely the positing of two principles: God, who is responsible for goodness, and some other principle responsible for badness in the world. An alternative strategy would be to defend various forms of monism, which basically amounts to positing God as either the only or as the highest principle in a hierarchy. Either approach, however, is beset with serious difficulties. It was ultimately impossible to escape the horn of unwanted implications that God is either not completely powerful or not completely good. More concretely, Christians had to decide whether matter is a principle in the universe or not, i.e. whether it contributed to the generation of the world or not. The account of Genesis is ambiguous on this point. It can be, and has indeed been, interpreted in two ways: (a) that God created the world by imposing order into a primeval chaos; or (b) that God brought the world about from nothing (ex nihilo). On either interpretation, God is responsible for the creation of the universe, which is thus ontologically different from God. The distinction between two ontological realms, of intelligible principles and of sensible, created entities, was primarily Platonic. The Christians sharpen this distinction further by distinguishing between ungenerated and generated beings, and they employ the term ktisis and its cognates for the latter,15 instead of the cognates of gignesthai (gegonen, genētos) of the Hellenic tradition. The latter terms are ambiguous as to the kind of causation involved, whether efficient, formal or final,16 which is why Platonists long debated about the sense in which God creates, whether in a literal sense of creation as generation by God, or in a non-literal sense according to which God is the formal and final principle of an always-existing world. The Christians wanted to make clear that God is the efficient cause of the world and that creation amounts to generation. They also wanted to make clear that God and world are ontologically radically different entities, which was not the case for Hellenic philosophers – in the Timaeus, the world is said to be a god, a view taken also by Aristotle, the Stoics and Plotinus.17 The Christians, however, were still facing the problem of whether matter exists eternally, as God does, or not. The options were roughly two: if matter is ungenerated as God is and accounts also for creation, God’s power and responsibility for creation is diminished. Besides, if creation is an act of God’s goodness, his goodness is conditional on the existence of matter. If, on the other hand, God is the only principle of the generated universe and he also creates matter, then God is responsible for all the features of the world, including badness, which Christians wanted to deny. Furthermore, on this scenario there is the issue of how an intelligible being, God, can bring about matter, given their ontological disparity. Early Christians were initially split between the two options. Puzzlement also characterizes the first surviving thinker in the Jewish tradition, Philo, who addresses this issue in treatises such as On the Creation of the World, On the Eternity of the World and On Providence. In the first of these, Philo introduces two principles, an active and a passive one, God and matter respectively (On the Making of the World 8), which is reminiscent of Stoicism, but, unlike the Stoics, Philo calls only the former a cause (21). In his view, matter is disordered and qualityless (22), and creation consists in the divine act of ordering it (22–30). In On Providence, Philo argues that God makes use of the right amount of matter in order to create (On Providence fr. 1; Eusebius Preparation for the Gospel 7.21), but it is unclear whether he considers matter eternal or created.18 This ambiguity also characterizes the first Christian thinkers. 57

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I  Justin, Athanagoras, Tatian, Theophilus Justin presents what he takes to be the Christian received doctrine (1 Apol. 10.1),19 but his account on cosmogony bears the mark of his own philosophical mind. Justin maintains that God created everything out of his goodness and from unformed matter (1 Apol. 10.2), which he transformed (67.7). Such statements suggest that Justin takes matter to be eternal and devoid of quality, in which case creation amounts to the divine act of imparting form on to unformed matter.20 Justin says explicitly that the view according to which everything has been created by God is Plato’s doctrine (1 Apol. 20.4), and he rejects the relevant Stoic position, according to which no creation took place.21 Later, however, Justin claims that Plato borrowed his account of cosmogony from Moses (1 Apol. 59.1), and he repeats that the universe was made by God’s word out of underlying materials (ek tōn hypokeimenōn). In his Dialogue with Trypho, though, Justin argues that only God is uncreated and what comes after him is created and perishable (Dial. 5.4–6). This passage has been taken to suggest that for Justin matter is also created, which would be at odds with the statements in the Apologies just mentioned.22 This, however, is not the case. In this passage of the Dialogue, Justin does not address the issue of cosmogony as such, nor is he addressing the question of the status of matter; the passage, rather, is part of the investigation into the question of whether the soul is mortal or immortal, and Justin’s appeal to the Timaeus aims to show that the soul is immortal in the same sense that the world according to Plato is imperishable, namely because of God’s will. The idea he defends is that God is substantially different from everything he is the cause of, including man’s soul. A younger contemporary of Justin, Athenagoras of Athens, also speaks of two principles, God and matter, and his concern is how to distinguish them (Embasy 7.1, 10.1). Athenagoras employs the image of the craftsman and his materials in order to illustrate the gap between the two (15.2). His imagery, however, suggests that he might well believe in eternal matter, although this is not entirely clear. This would make sense, since Athenagoras addresses Marcus Aurelius,23 who, as a committed Stoic, accepted God and matter as distinct, eternal principles. Like Justin, Athenagoras also speaks of the Son of God as an entity through which God creates, and he specifies that the Son is the Logos of the Father in form and activity (Embassy 10.3).24 Tatian and Theophilus argue unequivocally for the view that God created out of nothing and not from preexisting matter. In his sole extant work, the Oration to the Greeks, Tatian suggests that there are three causes involved in the creation of the universe, God, Logos and matter (ch. 5), a view comparable with the Platonist account of three principles, God, Forms and matter.25 Tatian maintains that God has always existed and is the only entity without beginning (anarchos; chs. 4–5), while matter has come into being, and for that reason matter is not a principle, because only what is without beginning qualifies as a principle (ch. 5, ll. 24–27). Yet Tatian does not say that God created matter; he rather says that matter is projected by the creator (hypo tou dēmiourgou probeblēmenē). Most probably Tatian distinguishes two stages in creation, one in which the divine creator created matter and another in which matter is projected by the creator so that all beings come about.26 This is possible in view of his reference to disordered matter (akosmēton), while earlier he refers to matter as being in a state of confusion. In the same context, Tatian clearly distinguishes between the creation of disordered matter and the ordering of matter. Tatian’s view, according to which God created out of nothing else outside God himself, but in two stages, which correspond to the creation of matter and that of bodies, is still inspired by the Timaeus (e.g. 31b, 34c, 69b–c). Although the account of the Timaeus is still very influential, Christian thinkers try to break away from it and develop a properly Christian theory of cosmogony because they want to escape from the problems associated with it, such as the question whether there had been an 58

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act of creation, as they wished, or whether matter preexists creation. Theophilus is critical of the cosmogony of the Timaeus. He argues that the view according to which God created out of preexistent matter diminishes God’s power by assimilating him to the human craftsman (To Autolycus 2.4). Theophilus maintains instead that God is the only principle (2.10) and claims that “God created all things whatever he wished and in whatever way he wished” (2.10). Theophilus, however, speaks in a way that implies the existence of two further causes apart from God, matter and God’s Logos, both of which are dependent on God; matter was created by (hypo) God, who created the universe from (apo) matter (2.10) and through (dia) his Logos (2.10, 2.13), which is God’s wisdom and instrument in creating the world. Theophilus’ language does not necessarily imply two stages in creation, as is the case with Tatian. He actually warns us against a human, process-like conception of creation (2.13). His approach, however, still is strikingly Platonist, since, like Platonists, he marks different causal relations through the use of prepositions;27 he distinguishes the efficient cause, the creator God, from the material cause and the instrumental cause, the Logos, yet in contrast to the Timaeus, matter here is dependent on God (and the Logos).

II  Irenaeus and Tertullian With Irenaeus and Tertullian, the question of cosmogony and how God is related to it becomes the most central issue in Christian thought. Their preoccupation with it is strongly motivated by their polemics against the Gnostics. Irenaeus’ main work, Against Heresies, is a systematic refutation of the Gnostic accounts. In their polemics against them, Irenaeus and Tertullian target specifically the Gnostic view of God. According to this view, of which there were several variants, the creator God is not the highest God but rather a subordinate craftsman, who follows the orders of a higher God, he executes them, however, with little skill and shows little concern for his creatures.28 Irenaeus sets out to argue against the view that there is a God above the creator and that the latter is a mere craftsman who takes orders from above and in this sense a product of deficiency. The thrust of his argument lies in demonstrating the goodness of the divine creator. He seems to believe that goodness is an essential feature of divinity that also characterizes God’s creative activity. This is manifested when he says that “there is no God unless he is good, because there is no God without goodness” (Against Heresies 3.25.3).29 Irenaeus considers God as revealing himself in the world through creation (4.20.7), insisting that “creating is proper to the goodness of God” (4.39.2). Crucial in this view of goodness is that reason is a necessary condition for goodness to exist.30 For Irenaeus and Tertullian, God is good to the extent that he operates with reason and the evidence of creation illustrates precisely this. God, Irenaeus claims, created for the benefit and for the sake of man, that is, in order to lead man to salvation (5.18.1, 5.28.4, 5.29.1).31 Irenaeus stresses the ethical dimension in the creation of the world through which God becomes knowable to man and guides man towards him, which is a point already made by Justin and Theophilus, because he has a certain conception of goodness such that the latter consists in the exercise of reason and beneficial activity (3.5.3, 3.24.2).32 Central in Irenaeus account of creation is his view that God creates through his Logos (Against Heresies 1.11.1, 2.2.4), God’s Word and Wisdom.33 He actually distinguishes between God the Father, Word the Son, and Wisdom the Spirit (3.24.2, 3.25.7, 4.7.3). Irenaeus argues, however, that God the Father is the only cause of the entire creation (4.20.4), since Word and Wisdom depend on God. Irenaeus actually claims that God created the universe out of his own substance: “And he took from himself the substance of things that were created and the model of the things made and the form of things ordered” (4.20.1). Thereby Irenaeus wants to suggest 59

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that God created matter out of himself, although he expresses ignorance as to how this happened (2.28.7). At this point Irenaeus criticizes Plato along with the Gnostics for postulating a principle of creation outside God (2.14.2–4), namely matter, insisting that God created alone out of nothing and the creation of matter is not a distinct stage in creation either (2.2.4, 2.30.9, 4.20.1–2).34 Irenaeus’ claim that God creates through his Logos means to confirm that God realizes his will without resorting to anything outside himself. Tertullian’s position was also shaped by his polemics against the partisans of the view that God is neither the only source of the created world nor creator himself. His two main opponents were Marcion and Hermogenes, who represented two versions of dualism. Both Marcion and Hermogenes maintained that the creator God creates out of preexisting matter, which is bad (Against Marcion 1.15.4, 4.9.7), and this means that they postulated God and matter as necessary principles for creation, while Marcion also postulated two Gods: a higher one who is good, and an inferior creator. Tertullian’s argument against Marcion is along the same lines as those of Irenaeus,35 while his attack against Hermogenes is unique. Apparently Hermogenes considered three options: a) that God made the world out of himself; or b) God made the world out of nothing; or c) out of something else, namely matter. If one opts for (a), then, Hermogenes suggests, one admits that the world is part of God. This, however, is impossible, first because God has no parts, is indivisible and unchangeable, and second, because if we admit that a part of God comes into being, this means that God does not always exist (Against Hermogenes 2.2–3), which is impossible. Option (b) is also impossible, because God is essentially good and creator of only good things, but the world is not completely good; rather, there are all kinds of evils in it, and this could not have happened out of God’s own decision. There must be, Hermogenes claims, something else involved in the creation of the world that accounts for its bad features, and this should be matter (2.4). Thus option (c) is left. Tertullian attacks Hermogenes’s dualistic view step by step.36 Given that Hermogenes equates matter to God by attributing independent existence to it, it is difficult to see on what grounds matter should be considered also subordinate to God, as Hermogenes claims (Against Hermogenes 7.3). Actually, on Hermogenes’s view it is God who needs matter, while matter does not need God, and as a result, matter appears to be more powerful than God (8.1). Tertullian also tries to show that Hermogenes’s thesis leads to contradictions. For if matter is bad and contributes badness to the world, as Hermogenes claims, the fact that God used it makes God accountable for the existence of badness (9.3–5) and shows God to be collaborator with badness (10.1–4). Such a view not only diminishes the status of God but also leaves unexplained the goodness of the world, which Hermogenes assumes. If matter remained true to its nature, the good features of the world could not have come about (12): either matter changed from bad to good by itself, or it contained elements of goodness from the start (13.1–2). In either case, God did not produce anything out of his own nature, and he is thus redundant (13.2). But this is an absurd view. Tertullian’s final conclusion is that creation ex nihilo is the only view that does not lead to absurdities. Tertullian, however, does not explain how exactly God’s creative activity should be conceived. Like Irenaeus, he does not tell us how God brings about matter and material entities. A certain theory of matter is needed here. Tertullian does not seem to have such a theory.

III  Clement of Alexandria Clement of Alexandria does not articulate a detailed theory of matter either, but he does offer a more articulate theory about creation. Apparently Clement sets out to defend such a view in a treatise on the origin of the world, which, if he wrote (Stromateis 4.1.3.1), has not survived. The aim of the treatise was to carry out the physiologia of the Christian Gnostic, that is, to articulate 60

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what the Christian wise man should know about nature. Clement suggests that the physiologia amounts to contemplation (epopteia) and depends on the study of cosmogony, which leads to theology (Stromateis 4.1.3.1).37 Such a statement indicates Clement’s attachment to the Timaeus. Clement follows the Timaeus in approaching the question of cosmogony through a distinction between the intelligible and sensible realm (Timaeus 27d–28a). Clement suggests that Genesis 1.1–3, which describes the earth as “invisible”, refers to the intelligible world (Stromateis 5.14.93.4–94.3), and only from i.6 onwards it refers to the sensible world. Clement also argues that the intelligible world is the model for the creation of the sensible world (5.14.93.4),38 an idea that he credits to Hellenic philosophy, especially to Plato and the Pythagoreans, but he argues that Plato in the Timaeus follows Moses in maintaining that the world was created by God (Stromateis 5.14.92.1–4). Clement points specifically to the Timaeus first when he suggests that the world has been created by a creator who is also the father of the world, a reference to Timaeus 28c (5.14.92.3); second, when reviewing the ancient theories of matter in which it is classified as a principle (5.13.89.4–7), Clement singles out Plato’s view according to which matter qualifies as “non-being”. But while Clement agrees with this Platonist conception of matter, he disagrees with the Platonist view that matter qualifies as principle. Clement rather claims that in the Timaeus the only principle is God (Stromateis 5.13.89.6, citing Timaeus 48c2–6).39 Clement’s motivation is to show that Scripture and Plato agree in acknowledging God as a single principle in creation. The fact, however, that Clement accepts the view that the creator is like a craftsman (Protrepticus 4.51), has been taken to suggest that Clement considers matter as preexisting.40 Yet the craftsman analogy does not necessarily imply acceptance of preexisting matter, as the case of Irenaeus mentioned earlier shows. In an important passage in his Protrepticus, Clement stresses that God creates only through his will (63.3), and he distinguishes his view from that of early Greek philosophers who postulated a material cause (64.1–2). Clement makes clear that God’s will is identical with his Logos, the Son of God, and he further identifies the Logos with the wisdom, power and will of God (Stromateis 5.1.6.3; Protrepticus 63.3), or with the wisdom, the knowledge and the truth of God (Stromateis 4.25.156.1). Like other early Christian thinkers, Clement makes the Logos, the Son of God, rather than God the Father, immediately involved with the creation (Stromateis 5.3.16.5).41 He claims that God’s Son is the one “through whom everything was created” (di’ hou panta egeneto; ibid.). Elsewhere Clement calls God “the principle of everything” (5.6.38.7), apparently of everything created, the “cause of creation” (5.3.16.5), or the “cause of all goods” (Protrepticus 1.7.1). Such passages show that for Clement only God is the principle of creation. Clement, however, avoids a straight answer to the question of how God carries out the creation through the Logos. In a cryptic passage, he seems to be saying that the Forms are concepts of God (Stromateis 5.3.16.1–4), which suggests that the divine wisdom hosts the Forms of everything created.42 In the same context, he says that the Logos generates himself when he becomes flesh (5.3.16.5). But we do not have any clear evidence about how, according to Clement, God’s wisdom realizes creation. The first to address this question is Origen.

IV Origen With Origen, the issue of cosmogony acquires new dimensions, as he understands that there are at least two levels of complexity in it, the status of the Christian God as a principle of being and generation of the universe, and the implications of cosmogony for human nature.43 The second concern arises from the realization that the question regarding the existence of evil in the world cannot be addressed unless one appreciates and adequately explains human vice. It does not 61

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suffice to say, as Tertullian did, that God is not responsible for evils in the world but only man is. For man is part of God’s creation. One must have a theory of man’s creation as part of a general theory of creation, which would explain how man is able to determine himself and his actions; otherwise the blame for man’s vice would still be laid, at least partly, on the creator.44 Origen is the first to construct such a theory. Origen’s overall approach is characterized by the determination to clarify the content of the concepts involved in the enquiry. One such concept is kosmos. After listing various senses that the term admits, he claims that takes kosmos in the broad sense of “the entire universe and everything that exists in it”, which includes the celestial and supra-celestial sphere, earthly and infernal regions, since all this is within God’s jurisdiction (First Principles 2.3.6). The other important notion that required clarification, according to Origen, is that of “creation” in the specific sense of divine creation. Origen suggests that the proposition “God created the world” makes sense only if we assume that God created ex nihilo. The view of those who maintain that God created out of preexisting matter rests on a notion of “creation” that leads to absurdities. Origen tries to show which these are. If we assume that matter preexisted creation, Origen argues, then we also admit that creation took place because God happened to have matter at his disposal; this means that if there was no matter, God could not have been a creator and thus a benefactor (in Eusebius, Preparation 5.2.20.2–3). Such a belief diminishes God’s potency, freedom of decision and God’s goodness (5.2.20.3), because God’s goodness exists to the extent that God is beneficent, and on that belief God’s beneficence is contingent on matter. Origen goes on to point out that the view of creation from preexisting matter is absurd in other regards too. For, he says, it is not the case that the world is created out of matter; rather, the world is created out of a certain kind of matter, informed matter, and there is no inert, remaining matter, as in the case of human craftsmen. Origen argues that the matter used in creation was not only of a certain quantity (First Principles 2.1.4) but also of a certain kind (in Eusebius, Preparation 5.2.20.5, 8). Matter, he claims, was plastic enough to admit of the properties bestowed on it by the creator (Preparation 5.2.20.5, 9). The ability of matter to take such different forms suggests that it is not a product of chance but of wisdom (sophia) and providence (pronoia). This explains why matter is of such nature and is characterized by measure (First Principles 2.9.1, 4.4.8); otherwise matter would not be able to contribute to the order of the world (First Principles 2.1.4). The fact that it does suggests that matter has a nature such that it contributes to the orderly arrangement of the world (in Preparation 5.2.20.4). Clearly, then, it is God’s wisdom on which the orderly arrangement of the world arrangement of the world depends. Origen appears to be speaking of two kinds of creation. The first is the creation of the principles, patterns and reasons (initia, rationes, species; First Principles 2.2.2) of all created things. It is in accordance with them that everything is created, in the same way that a house or a ship is built in accordance with some principles or rules and a certain model of house or ship.45 These reasons are created by God and feature in his wisdom, in which all created things are prefigured (First Principles 1.2.3, Commentary on John 1.19.113). Origen identifies divine wisdom with God’s Son, Christ (First Principles 1.2.1), who is said to be a principle of creation to the extent that he is the wisdom of God (sophia; Commentary on John 1.19.111).46 For Origen, though, the most fundamental sense of creation is that of the creation of the patterns in accordance with which everything is made, since “it is because of this creation that all creation has also been able to subsist” (Commentary on John 1.34). Origen claims that the cause of this fundamental or primary creation is God the Father. To the extent that the product of this primary creation amounts to the contents of the divine wisdom, we understand why Origen says that God’s wisdom, the Son, was created by God (First Principles 1.2.3; Against Celsus 5.39). The 62

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term “created” is not to be taken literally here, since it applies to an eternal being (First Principles 1.2.4, 4.4.1). The term is rather used to distinguish between cause and effect.47 Origen is careful, however, to name God in the singular as the cause of creation (First Principles 3.6.7); God and his Logos are distinguished only in terms of function – God is not a composite. The former is primarily the creator of the intelligible reasons, or the creator of being, and only secondarily the creator of the sensible world, to the extent that he acts through the Logos,48 who brings about the sensible world. Origen maintains that the world as such is eternal, being a testimony to the divine goodness, but this particular world, given its sensible, corporeal nature, would perish. He thus distinguishes between the world that has always been there, that is, the intelligible reasons, and its ages or aeons of the world, which succeed one another in sequence (First Principles 2.1.3, 2.3.4–5). However this is, Origen sees one considerable danger in his theory, which is that the principle of creation is accountable also for the badness in the world. As I said earlier, Origen is extremely sensitive to this idea, and his account of cosmogony is shaped by his effort to find a way out on this. Origen maintains that the diversity in rational creatures, including humans, in terms of natural features, talents and inclinations, is neither arbitrary nor the result of God’s decision, but rather due to the choice of individual intellects (First Principles 2.9.6), which are living beings (1.8.4). Their living amounts to having thoughts and desires for the good or the bad. It is the propensities they develop as disembodied intellects, Origen suggests, that determine their future embodied lives. On such a theory, God emerges as absolutely righteous, because he created all human souls equal and they are alone responsible for their fortune.

V  Basil and Gregory of Nyssa Basil and Gregory of Nyssa are particularly concerned with the issue of creation. Basil’s main work on this topic is the Hexaemeron, nine homilies exegetical of the opening chapters of Genesis.49 Basil takes issue both with those who maintain that formless matter preexists creation and with those who argue that matter did not preexist but God is the creator of the world only in the sense that he is the cause of it. Against the former, he argues that such a view implies God’s inability to create alone (Hexaemeron 2.2), and he adds that matter, insofar as it is privation matter, cannot be a principle of something as good as the world.50 The latter view undermines God’s ontological status as a unique entity and denies to him the exercising of his will. Those who portray God as a cause of a coeternal creation claiming that the world has come into being spontaneously (automatōs; Hexaemeron 1.17, 17C), imply that creation took place without God’s wanting it (aprohairetōs; ibid.). On this view God’s being alone was sufficient for the world to come into being.51 This, however, Basil argues, is not what Genesis suggests. Basil claims that Genesis employs the term epoiēsen, “made”, and not enērgēsen, “actualized”, or hypestēsen, “brought about” (1.7, 17BC). Such a terminology, Basil argues, indicates the deliberate intervention of a willing divine craftsman. This does not have to mean that creation took place at some point in time. With regard to Genesis 1.1, Basil argues that the beginning (archē) of X is not yet X; neither does it indicate a tiny part of time, but a timeless moment in which creation takes place at once (athroōs; 1.6). Basil thus rejects a temporal interpretation of creation, arguing that creation took place outside of time. Time, Basil claims, came about with the world (Against Eunomius 1.21, 360ab), yet he argues for a temporal priority between God and the world (Hexaemeron 1.1, 4A). The question, though, is to what exactly cosmogony amounts on this view. Basil argues that God created the heavens and the earth as the foundations and the limits of the created world (Hexaemeron 1.7). He claims that the world is a sum of qualities mixed with each other 63

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(1.7, 20AB; 4.5, 89BD). These qualities in their mixture make up everything there is; heaven and earth are created in this sense. Thus, Basil argues, there is no need to assume a material substrate (1.8, 21B). Addressing the question what keeps these qualities together, Basil argues that qualities stay with the things they qualify because of God’s power that consists in unifying them (6.3, 121C). Basil does not specify how God’s power unites everything. Basil probably maintained that God creates by providing the logoi of all bodies and by keeping them together. Gregory of Nyssa will develop this theory further. Gregory focuses on the question that neither Origen nor Basil directly address, namely how it is possible for an immaterial principle like God to create the material universe. An answer to that question requires an answer to the question of the nature of matter. Gregory of Nyssa takes up precisely this task. He maintains that matter as such does not really exist; what does exist, he claims, are qualities such as cold and hot, dry and humid, light and heavy, colour and shape, and their convergence constitutes what we call matter (Apology for Hexaemeron 69C). These qualities are not themselves of material nature; rather, they are concepts (ennoiai) or thoughts (noēmata) in God’s intellect and have always existed in that form (ibid.). God did not actually create matter, but he rather created all beings out of the thoughts in his intellect. Gregory articulates his theory in his Apology for Hexaemeron, in On the Soul and Resurrection and On the Creation of Man. In On the Soul and Resurrection (124 CD) in particular, Gregory argues that bodies are intelligible to the extent that they are made up of intelligible entities, the qualities or logoi, which are hosted by the divine intellect but also by the human intellect. While creation of sensible, corporeal entities amounts to the combination of the logoi of God, we, humans, in turn get to know these entities by combining the logoi that constitute them. Although qualities or logoi are presented to us united, we distinguish them nevertheless remarkably clearly. Our ability for such a distinction suggests to Gregory that qualities are also distinct in reality as constituents of matter. This, in his view, means that they are distinct in the divine mind too. In Gregory’s view, God does not create by combining his own thoughts; rather, God’s thoughts combine as qualities when they are out of the divine mind. For Gregory, it is an act of divine will that is primarily responsible for the establishment of the logoi. Gregory’s idea seems to be that as soon as the logoi are established in God’s mind they are projected out of it, and this amounts to the world’s coming into being. Gregory’s answer, then, to the question of how an immaterial God created a material world is that the question is misguided, because the world is not actually material at all, but rather is constituted of reasons or qualities (logoi), which are generated in the divine mind and are recognized by the human mind.52

Conclusion The previous outline has hopefully shown how central and how complex was the issue of cosmogony for early Christian thinkers. It had implications and repercussions on several other topics that early Christians debated, such as that of human nature and especially on human freedom of choice, on the nature of evil, on ethics. The more early Christians realized that, the more sophisticated their positions on cosmogony progressively became.

Notes 1 On the Timaeus’ cosmogony, see Cornford 1937; Johansen 2004, 2008; Broadie 2011. A good survey of ancient cosmogonical theories is that of Sedley 2008. For more details on how the Timaeus bears on the discussion about creation among early Christian thinkers, see Karamanolis 2013: 60–74. 2 Alexander for instance speaks of the “order [kosmos] that pertains to earth” (On the Meteorology 43.28–29). 64

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3 See Anaxagoras DK 59 A 43, A 12, Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics 1216a11. 4 Timaeus 27a5–6, 28b2–3, Posidonius in Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 7.138, Philo, On the Eternity of the World 4, ps.-Aristotle, On the World 391b9–10. 5 The Stoics define kosmos as “a system consisting of gods and humans and the things existing for their sakes”. See Chrysippus in Stobaeus, Excerpts. 1.184.8 (SVF 2.527). 6 Origen, Commentary on John 1.19, Against Celsus 5.39. 7 See Phaedo 97c4; Philebus 30c5; Timaeus 53b1. 8 On this issue, see Runia 1968. 9 On Valentinus’ cosmology, see Thomassen 2006. 10 I refer to Plotinus’s long anti-gnostic treatise, comprising Enneads 3.8, 5.8, 5.5, 2.9. 11 On this, see Moraux 1984: 6–77. Its date remains controversial (a date in the first or second c. AD is possible). 12 This was already pointed out in the Old Testament, Wisdom of Solomon 13:5. See further Tertullian, On the Resurrection 2.8, Against Marcion I.10.1–4, 2.3.2, 5.16, Athanasius, Against the Nations 44–45. 13 This tendency starts already with the New Testament (Acts 17, Romans 1.7) 14 Christians are in line with Plato on that (see e.g. Republic 379c, Theaetetus 176a). 15 The Christians do so from early on (Rom. 1:20, Marc. 10:6, 13:19) and later, e.g. in Athanasius’s Against the Nations. 16 On the ancient debate on the interpretation of the Timaeus, the standard work is Baltes 1976. 17 See Timaeus 34b1, 55d5, 69e3–4; Aristotle, On Philosophy, fr. 26 Ross (=Cicero, Nature of the Gods 1.33); Chrysippus, SVF 2.227; Plotinus, Enneads 4.8.1.41–42. 18 On Philo’s interpretation of cosmogony, see Runia (1968) and (2003), esp. 136–139. 19 Cf. I Cor. 11.23, 15.1. Similar vocabulary occurs throughout First Apology (e.g. 14.4, 46.1); cf. Second Apology 4.2. 20 Justin uses the verb trepsas (“alter, change”). Similarly Philo, Making of World 21 uses the term tropē for the imposition of order in matter. 21 See May 1978: 124–125. 22 See e.g. Osborn 1973: 46–47; 2001: 66–67. 23 This is announced at the title of Athenagoras’ work, setting its date between 176 and 180. 24 See further Rankin 2010. 25 E.g. in Alcinous’ Didascalicus chs. 6–9 and in Apuleius, On Plato 1.5.190. See further Pepin 1964: 17–58. 26 See Runia 2003: 142. 27 See Dörrie 1976. 28 See Irenaeus, 1.27.2; Tertullian, Against Marcion 1.6.1, 3.3.23. 29 si non et bonus sit, non est Deus, quia Deus non est cui bonitas desit (Against Heresies 3.25.3). 30 Cf. also Seneca, Letters 66.12. See Osborn 1997: 95–96. 31 See Steenberg 2008: 6–7, 145–150, who stresses Irenaeus’ anthropocentric view of creation. 32 See May 1978: 168. 33 On this see Osborn 2001: 51–53, and Steenberg 2008: 62–71. 34 See Runia 2003: 133–151. 35 Tertullian’s polemic against Marcion is well outlined by Mejering 1977 and by Osborn 2001: ch. 5. 36 On Tertullian’s polemics against Hermogenes, see Waszink 1955; May 1978: 143–145; Karamanolis 2013: 82–87. 37 See Lilla 1971: 189–191. 38 For similar descriptions, see Plutarch, On the Generation of the Soul in the Timaeus 1013C; On Isis and Osiris 373A; Alcinous, Didascalicus 167.5–11; Apuleius, On Plato 1.192–199. 39 See further Osborn 2005: 32. 40 See Lilla 1971: 193–194. 41 On the status of Logos in Clement, see Edwards 2000: 159–177. 42 See further Le Boulluec 1981: 84–88. 43 On Origen’s cosmology see Tzamalikos 2006; Boys-Stones 2011. 44 This was already realized by Irenaeus (e.g. Against Heresies 4.37–8) and Clement (e.g. Stromateis 6.9.96.1–2). 45 Commentary on John 1.19.114; First Principles 1.2.2; Against Celsus 5.37. 46 On this passage, see Tzamalikos 2006: 84–85, 165–172. 47 Origen gives the standard example of such a relation between coeternal beings, the light as cause of brightness (First Principles 1.2.4); cf. Plotinus, Enneads 5.4.2.27–30, Porphyry fr. 261 Smith. One 65

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could compare this distinction with that between first and second God among Platonists (Numenius fr. 16 Des Places; Alcinous, Didascalicus 164.31–3; Plotinus, Enneads 1.2.6.23–6). See Waszink 1969: 155–158. 48 On the metaphysics that is here involved, see Dillon 1982. 49 On Basil’s interpretation of cosmogony, see mainly Köckert 2009: 312–399 and also Zachhuber 2006. 50 Hexaemeron 2.2. See also Plotinus, Enneads 2.4.16.3, I.8.5.23, I.8.911–914. 51 This is what Porphyry claims (in Proclus, Commentary on Timaeus 1.395.11–13 Diehl). 52 Gregory’s cosmology has attracted much interest. See Sorabji 1983: 292–294; Karamanolis 2013: 101–107.

Bibliography Baltes, M. (1976), Die Weltentstehung des platonischen Timaeus nach den antiken Interpreten, 1 vol., Leiden: Brill. Boys-Stones, G. (2011), “Time, Creation, and the Mind of God: The Afterlife of a Platonist Theory in Origen”, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 40, 319–337. Broadie, S. (2011), Nature and Divinity in Plato’s Timaeus, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Cornford, F. (1937), Plato’s Cosmology, London: Kegan Paul. Dillon, J. (1982), “Origen’s Doctrine of the Trinity and Some Later Neoplatonic Theories”, in D. O’Meara (ed.), Neoplatonism and Early Christian Thought, Norfolk: International Society for Neoplatonic Studies, 19–23. Dörrie, H. (1976), “Präpositionen und Metaphysik”, in H. Dörrie (ed.), Platonica Minora, Munich: W. Fink, 124–136. Edwards, M. (2000), “Clement of Alexandria and his Doctrine of the Logos”, Vigiliae Christianae 54, 159–177. Johansen, T. (2004), Plato’s Natural Philosophy: A  Study of the Timaeus-Critias, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Johansen, T. (2008), “The Timaeus on the Principles of Cosmology”, in G. Fine (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Plato, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 463–483. Karamanolis, G. (2013), The Philosophy of Early Christianity, Durham; London: Acumen. Köckert, C. (2009), Christliche Kosmologie und kairerzeitliche Philosophie, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. Le Boulluec, A. (1981), Clément d’Alexandrie: Les Stromates V, Paris: Les Editions du Cerf. Lilla, S. (1971), Clement of Alexandria: A Study in Christian Platonism and Gnosticism, Oxford: Oxford University Press. May, G. (1978), Schöpfung aus dem Nichts: Die Entstehung der Lehre von der Creatio ex Nihilo, Berlin: de Gruyter. Mejering, E. (1977), Tertullian contra Marcion: Gotteslehre in der Polemik, Leiden: Brill. Moraux, P. (1984), Der Aristotelismus bei den Griechen, 2 vols., Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. Osborn, E. (1973), Justin Martyr, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. Osborn, E. (1997), Tertullian: First Theologian of the West, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Osborn, E. (2001), Irenaeus of Lyons, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Osborn, E. (2005), Clement of Alexandria, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pepin, J. (1964), Théologie cosmique théologie chrétienne, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Rankin, D. (2010), “Athenagoras, Philosopher and First Principles”, Studia Patristica 15, 419–424. Runia, D. (1968), Philo of Alexandria and the Timaeus of Plato, Leiden: Brill. Runia, D. (2003), “Plato’s Timaeus, First Principle(s) and Creation in Philo and Early Christian Thought”, in G. Reydams-Schils (ed.), Plato’s Timaeus as a Cultural Icon, Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 133–151. Sedley, D. (2008), Creationism and its Critics in Antiquity, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Sorabji, R. (1983), Time, Creation, and the Continuum, London: Duckworth. Steenberg, W. C. (2008), Irenaeus on Creation, Leiden: Brill. Thomassen, E. (2006), The Spiritual Seed: The Church of the Valentinians, Leiden: Brill.

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Tzamalikos, P. (2006), Origen: Cosmology and Ontology of Time, Leiden: Brill. Waszink, J. (1955), “Observations on Tertullian’s Treatise Against Hermogenes”, Vigiliae Christianae 9, 129–147. Waszink, J. (1969), “Bemerkungen zum Einfluss des Platonismus im frühen Christentum”, Vigiliae Christianae 19, 155–158. Zachhuber, J. (2006), “Stoic Substance, Non-existent Matter? Some Passages in Basil of Caesarea Reconsidered”, Studia Patristica 41, 425–431.

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6 Providence and evil Dylan M. Burns

Introduction The issue of providence (Grk. pronoia; Lat. providentia) was ubiquitous and of chief importance in ancient Greek philosophy (Dragona-Monachou 1994). Already in Presocratic thought one sees the term pronoia used on occasion to describe not simply the human act of caring, but divine forethought for the world and human beings (Parker 1992). Plato, in Timaeus 29e–30b, emphasizes not only that the world has a creator, but that this creator is good, and has a faculty of care (pronoia) in the act of creation. While Aristotle, to the best of our knowledge, denied that God cares for human affairs, the Stoa identified God with divine creative activity, and indeed providence itself, even going so far as to refer to contemporaneous divinatory practices as proof of the existence of providential nexus called God (generally, see Frede 2002). ‘Providence,’ in short, came to refer to the gods’ various activities in interaction between the human and the divine – including the human niveaux occupied by cultic and political mediators. By the time that speakers of Latin began to adapt Greek thought into Roman idiom, the notion of specifically providential deities was axiomatic to Greek and Roman civic cult, and so arguments that the gods are in fact absent from worldly matters were often taken to be ridiculous and even dangerous (e.g. Cic. Nature of the Gods 1.3–4, Atticus, frg. 3.49–63 des Places). Conversely, Hellenistic autocrats were partial to calling their rule pronoia, a strategy taken up in early Roman imperial propaganda, which tirelessly promoted the emperor’s rule as providentia deorum (Martin 1982). When the translators of the Septuagint rendered the Torah into Greek, they used the term pronoia to describe God’s activity despite the fact that there was no such comparable word in their Hebrew source-texts (cf. Scheffczyk 1963: 11). During the initial three centuries CE, the first Christians to practice philosophy were never distant from the apologetic project of presenting and explaining their emergent religion to the Roman authorities, fellow elites, and competing worshippers of the God of Israel (cf. Bergjan 2002: 81–83).1 Providence was a subject about which they were forced to present very clear arguments, since it describes not just divine but earthly administration. Providence went directly to the heart of the (at times dangerous) choice to worship outside of the civic sphere, and one of the burdens of the apologists was explaining how God could permit the persecution of His followers (Minucius Felix, Octavius 12, 27–28; Tertullian Apology 5; Clement of Alexandria, 68

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Stromateis 4.11; Origen, Against Celsus 8.70). At the same time, early Christian philosophers were also deeply interested in developing their own ideas concerning the providence of the God of Israel in tandem with the biblical texts they read and contested. While they were nearly unanimous on the question of divine care for individuals, they were deeply split when it came to the concomitant problems of theodicy its ramifications for understanding God’s relationship to creation, as our evidence regarding the figures of Hermogenes, Marcion, and the Gnostics makes clear.

Omnipresent gods While many philosophers agreed that the gods care, the questions of which gods care for whom, and how much, presented much occasion for disagreement. As often, the terms of debate were set by Plato, who in the Laws (900d–904b) presents the issue as one of care for the “whole” (holos, i.e. the greater scope of things, the entire universe) versus the “part” (meros, each and every little thing). The dialogue’s protagonists entertain different possibilities, before settling on the thesis that “the supervisor of the universe has arranged everything with an eye to its preservation and excellence. . . . Creation is not for your benefit; you exist for the sake of the universe” (Laws 903b–c, tr. Saunders in Cooper and Hutchinson 1997: 1560, italics mine; cf. Louth 2007: 280). Stoic philosophers struggled with the question, presenting different answers at different times, although their approach was dictated by an overarching belief in God’s involvement with everything (Bénatouïl 2009, esp. 36–44; Sharples 2003: 115 passim). Chrysippus argues that while providence is present throughout the world, it is present in some parts more than others, particularly with respect to virtue (D. L. 7.138–139 = von Arnim 1924, 2:634 = Long and Sedley 1987: 47O), and he likens the cosmos to a great manor that functions wonderfully, despite small problems (Plutarch, Stoic Contradictions 1051c = von Arnim 1924, 2:1178 = Long and Sedley 1987: 54S). In more pantheistic moments, though, other Stoa focused on the immanence of providence. The grand sequence of causes, Marcus Aurelius marvels, conspired from the start to produce even the most minute individual experiences (Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 10.5). The coexistence of these arguments within the Stoic tradition indicates diversity, but also that the question of providential care for wholes versus parts may really be one of perspective. Cicero’s Stoic character ‘Balbus’ says that God cares not only for humanity as a whole, but for individuals as well – and then a few paragraphs later pivots, granting that the gods parva neglegunt (Nature of the Gods 2.164, 167, respectively). Similarly, Seneca states that the gods care for individuals, but not every little thing (Letters to Lucilius 95.50; Nat. quaest. 2.46). Nonetheless, it is fair to speak of a certain anthropocentrism to Stoic philosophy, especially Epictetus, insofar as the providential god is most present where there is human virtue (Frede 2002: 108; also Dragona-Monachou 1994: 4430; Bénatouïl 2009: 40; Karamanolis 2014: 155). Christian philosophers are striking in their shared emphasis on the reach of divine care to individuals, even as they explored a variety of possible mechanisms. Justin Martyr mentions in passing a criticism of prayer as mutually exclusive with Christian belief in care for individuals, clearly taking the latter as axiomatic (Trypho 1.3–4; Pépin 1976; Burns 2014b). Similarly, Minucius Felix, in his dialogue Octavius, arms the critic Caecilius with Epicurean arguments to attack the Christian God’s care for individuals: Yet again what monstrous absurdities these Christians devise! This God of theirs – whom they can neither show nor see – carefully looks into everyone’s habits, everyone’s deeds, even their words and hidden thoughts, no doubt in a hurry and present everywhere; they 69

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make him out a troublesome, restless, shameless and interfering being who has a hand in everything that is done, stumbling by at every turn, since he can neither attend to particulars because he is distracted by the whole, nor to the whole because he is occupied with particulars (cum nec singulis inservire possit per universa distractus nec universis sufficere in singulis occupatus).2 Caecilius’s Christian opponent, Octavius, invokes the metaphor of a well-run household and replies that God’s singular providence does indeed care for the individual parts of the world (Oct. 18.3–7; similarly, Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis 7.2.8.3). Notably, the unique and monarchial character of providential rule is emphasized across a wide range of second- and third-century Christian writers (Letter to Diognetus 7.2; Origen, Celsus 4.99, 8.70; additionally, Herm. Vis. 1.3.4 (3.4)), as is the deeply Stoic notion of God’s enveloping of the totality of the universe (Theophilus, To Autolycus 1.5; Athenagoras, Embassy 8; see Spanneut 1957: 325–327; Louth 2007: 285). The specter of Stoic pantheism looms large behind these debates (Louth 2007: 283–284), and some Christian thinkers explicitly sought to distinguish their view of providential care for particulars from that of the Stoa. Clement of Alexandria argues that the divine administration (oikonomia) is carried out by a staff: “for regiments of angels occupy nations and cities – and perhaps some of them are established over individual persons as well.”3 Thus, God need not inhabit the body of the universe to act everywhere: Nor do the Stoics speak nobly, when they say that God, being a body, inhabits even the vilest matter (tēs atimotatēs hylēs pephoitēkenai). . . . For the teaching which is in accordance with Christ deifies the Creator, attributes providential care even to particulars, knows that the nature of the elements is both subject to change and generation, and teaches us to devote our conduct to that power which brings similitude to God, and to welcome the divine plan as the directing agent of all education (tēn oikonomian hōs hēgemonikon tēs apasēs paideias). (Stromateis 1.11.51.1–52.3) Thus, the entire purpose of the studies of the ‘true Gnostic’ is to serve as a pastor, who, by caring for the flock, “actually preserves a faint image of the true providence” (Stromateis 7.12.70.7; see also Bergjan 2015: 85–87). Origen took up similar lines of argument regarding the implication of divine omniscience for God’s character in Against Celsus, where he denies that the omnipresent deity of the Christians is simply that of the Stoa (Celsus 6.71), tarring his opponent with the brush of the Epicurean rejection of providence (Celsus 1.8, 1.10, 4.74–75; see further Bergjan 2001). Even so, Matt 10:29–304 was a favorite prooftext of his, wheeled out in early and late works alike in support of divine care for individuals (First Principles 3.2.7; Commentary on Romans 3.1.15; Homilies on Luke 32.3; Celsus 8.70). Origen’s fondness for the sparrows reminds that, while Stoic arguments about God’s omnipresence likely offered a useful framework for early Christians seeking to explain their ideas in a philosophical context (Scheffczyk 1963: 29, 39), their inspiration for doing so stemmed from the bible at least as much as the Greek philosophical tradition (rightly Louth 2007: 286). Such a dynamic is observable in one of Clement and Origen’s favorite writers, Philo of Alexandria, who affirmed providential care for the whole and parts alike (Special Laws 3.189; generally, Frick 1999), identifying this care as most present when humans choose to behave virtuously: “Scripture says that they (i.e., the virtuous) who do ‘what is pleasing’ to nature and what is ‘good’ are sons of God. For it says, ‘Ye are sons to your Lord God’ (Deut 14:1), clearly meaning that He 70

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will think fit to protect and provide for you as would a father” (Special Laws 1.318, tr. Colson 1929: 285. See Frick 1999: 172–173). The idiom is that of Deuteronomy, but the argument is one to which Chrysippus or Epictetus would have readily assented. Extra-philosophical Christian literature of the apostolic era, too, presents a view of divine activity the Stoa would have recognized. The oldest church order, the Didache, instructs (3.10, tr. Holmes 2007): “accept whatever befalls you as good, knowing that nothing transpires apart from God.” Marcus Aurelius could not have put it better.

Theodicies: demonology and dualism While Clement was primarily interested in human actors as God’s agents in providential work, other Christian philosophers focused more on the mediating activity of superhuman beings. In his Embassy to the Greeks, for instance, Athenagoras of Athens states that these angels were called into being by God to exercise providence over the things set in order by him, so that God would have universal and general providence over all things whereas the angels would be set over particular things. (Embassy 24.3, tr. Schoedel 1972: 59) The assignment of providence over universals to God and a lower sort of care over particulars to semidivine beings recalls Middle Platonic divisions between providence and fate (heimarmenē or anagkē) and their administrators – God and daimones, respectively – a model that goes back at least to the early second century CE (inter alia, [Plutarch] On Fate 572f – 573f; see recently Sharples 2003; Opsomer 2014). Among the model’s purposes appears to have been the insulation of God from having to be (in the words of Minucius Felix’s character ‘Caecilius’) a “troublesome, restless, shameless and interfering being,” and from being culpable for the faults manifest in the everyday world of human experience (the ‘parts’ of the cosmos). Daimones run this part of the household, which helps explain its imperfection. It may initially appear curious that the Middle Platonic model was not adapted more widely by early Christian philosophers. The matter is clarified by Athenagoras’s own discussion of the angelic administrators: the daimones of the Platonists were regarded by philosophers of all stripes as the gods of traditional Greek and Roman cults, and this was a problem for Christians, who regarded these same gods not only as subordinate, but as the malevolent forces hungry for the sacrifices rendered unto their idols (cf. 1 Cor 10:6–22; Justin, First Apology 5.2–6.1; Tatian, Oration to the Greeks 7; Russell 1987: 70–76).5 A popular explanation for the existence of such demons among Jews of the Hellenistic period was the myth of the fall of the angels (Gen 6:1–4), developed at length in the pseudepigraphic works Jubilees and the Book of the Watchers (1 En. 1–36). The Book of the Watchers was popular among Christian writers of the first three centuries (VanderKam 1996), but even the most casual hearer of Gospels knew that demons were agents of Satan, responsible for sickness and ill fortune, successfully combatted by Jesus during his life in myriad exorcisms (e.g., Mark 3:22–26/Matt 12:24–28/Luke 11:14–20; Luke 10:17–18). Athenagoras had to explain the relationship between God’s angels and the daimones, and did it with recourse to the myth of the fallen angels, as well as Deuteronomy 32:8’s influential account of God’s apportioning of worldly administration to “the angels of the nations.” Angels, Athenagoras writes, are responsible for their own behavior (see also Tatian, Oration 7.1), and while some of them have always carried out their duty, others were overcome by desire for human women, became wicked impostor-deities, spawned giants, and to this day tempt people to take up evil ways (Embassy 24.4–5; cf. Bergjan 2002: 316–324). Athenagoras’s discussion of fall of the 71

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angelic administrators of providence was an influential one, quoted by Methodius of Olympus (Resurrection 37). Origen described demons as angels assigned to govern nations and individuals, but who became evil beings (Celsus 4.92; see further 3.35, 5.30–31, 8.31–36, 8.39, 8.70; Russell 1987: 133–135). Yet, Origen insists, it is not God who is at fault for creating beings as capable of sin; rather, it is the created beings themselves who are responsible for sinning (Principles 1.5.4–5; Celsus 7.68; so Russell 1987: 128; Scott 2015: 66–69). If demons are evil because they are capable of sin, it is sin, rather than demons, that is the ultimate source of evil. Despite their flirtation with Middle Platonists’ notions of daemonic administrators of fate, early Christian philosophers articulated the question of personal responsibility vis-à-vis evil in largely Stoic terms. One set of Stoic arguments (occasionally called ‘concomitance arguments’ – takata parakolouthēsin) hold that evil is necessary, echoing Plato’s view that evils in the parts of creation are necessary for the good of the whole (thus Cic. Nat. d. 2.86–87). Chrysippus argues that virtue’s existence is contingent on that of vice; therefore, there is vice (Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights 7.1.2–6 = von Arnim 1924, 2:1169 = Long and Sedley 1987: 54Q).6 Chrysippus’s later detractors mocked him for having esteemed the providential benefits of bedbugs and mice (Plutarch, Stoic Contradictions 1044d = von Arnim 1924, 2:1163). Philo employs several of these arguments in his work On Providence, arguing that apparent evils such as the profit of wickedness or natural disasters are actually goods for the sake of the whole, which is ordered like a good household (Providence 2.3–22, 53–55; cf. Seneca, Providence 1.5–6; further, Dragona-Monachou 1994: 4457–4460; Frick 1999: 146). Similarly, in Against Celsus, Origen famously employs the ‘concomitance argument’ to explain biblical passages which identify God as responsible for everything, including evils (Job 2:10; Is 45:7; Micah 1:12–13), by way of comparing the experience of worldly evil to the wooden detritus and sawdust left by a skillful carpenter at work (Cels. 6.55; cf. Marc. Aur. 8.50; see also Russell 1987: 129). Dangerous beasts are not evil, but challenge people to become tougher and more courageous (Cels. 4.75; similarly, Philo, Prov. 2.56–61; Tert. Marc. 1.14.1–2). Platonic demonology could also be adapted to the concomitance argument: demons that appear to be harmful contribute to the whole, just as a public executioner, however fearsome, plays a role good for a city (Cels. 8.31; similarly Clem. Alex. Strom. 6.3.31.1; see further Karavites 1999: 42–43). Another, related set of Stoic arguments focus on moral evil as distinct from the attendant problems of the natural world, thus isolating evil as a strictly human phenomenon for which humans alone are to blame (Chrysippus ap. Plut. Comm. not. 1050f = von Arnim 1924, 2:1181 = Long and Sedley 1987: 61R; also Marc. Aur. 8.55). Philo used such arguments as well (Post. 133; Sob. 60, 62, 68; Dragona-Monachou 1994: 4458–4459; Frick 1999: 168). This Stoic conception of evil was central for the first Christian philosophers (Karamanolis 2014: 156), who often rendered the question specifically in terms of sin and moral pollution. While some writers explained human responsibility for sin with recourse to the tale of the fall of Adam and Eve (Tatian, Oration 11.2; Theophilus, Autolycus, 2.27; Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.22.4; Tert. Against Marcion 2.6.5, 2.9.9; Russell 1987: 83; Karamanolis 2014: 161, 164–165), others described sinful forces in more explicitly philosophical terms. Athenagoras does not describe demons simply as monsters, but as the external forces which trip people up and lead them to make erroneous decisions (Giulea 2007, re: Leg. 25), and Clement did the same (Strom. 2.20.110–11, 6.12.98.1; see Russell 1987: 115; Karavites 1999: 46). Origen, meanwhile, went further and adopted a privative view of evil, wherein sin is ultimately a participation in nothingness (Commentary on John 2.92–99; see Scott 2015: 24–25). A standard perspective in the Platonic tradition from Plotinus onwards (Opsomer and Steel 1999; also Scott 2015: 26–32), Augustine made the conception of evil as privative famous in his chilling exposition of his experience of utter abnegation when stealing pears as a youth (Confessions 2.8). 72

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Plato, too, lay responsibility for unfortunate circumstances in the present life on human choices – made prior to birth. In several of his eschatological myths, he emphasizes that “the blame lies with the chooser” when the soul is in heaven, between incarnations (Laws 903d; see also Phaedrus 248d–e; Republic 617d–e; Alt 1993: 13, 123; Dragona-Monachou 1994: 4421; Frede 2002: 93–95; Louth 2007: 281–282). Some early Christian writers embraced the doctrine of metempsychosis, such as the author(s) of the Sethian Gnostic Zostrianos, a treatise known to Plotinus’s school (NHC VIII,1.42–44; Burns 2014a: 96–106). Others turned the Platonic position on its head instead: Theophilus of Antioch, for instance, argues that the Greek poets’ depictions of the afterlife serve as evidence of the wicked receiving their just deserts in the afterlife, and of the Final Judgement (Autol. 2.38; cf. also Bergjan 2002: 109–154). Another Platonic theodicy which gained much wider currency in early Christian philosophy was the notion of matter as related to evil, owing to the Timaeus’s designation (30b) of matter as chaos in need of ordering by a demiurge. Some Middle Platonists read this passage next to Plato’s description of what appears to be an evil world-soul (Laws 896e, 898c), postulating a second active, causal principle responsible for worldly evil. Plutarch of Chaeronea explicated this view with reference to the Egyptian myth of Seth-Typhon’s dismemberment of Osiris, whose body is reassembled by his wife, Isis; the nefarious deity Seth represents the evil part of the world-soul, while Isis signifies matter (Isis and Osiris 370f; see Armstrong 1992: 38–39; Alt 1993: 23–24; Karamanolis 2014: 67). Numenius of Apamea also identifies a second, active cause in the cosmos, explicitly dubbing chaotic matter the evil product of a malicious world-soul (frg. 52 des Places; see Armstrong 1992: 39). In a passage preserved by Chalcidius, he describes how the second, demiurgic intellect is warped and split off from itself as it enters matter’s chaotic ‘field,’ in its providential enterprise to beautify it and form a world (frg. 11 des Places). The influence of such Middle Platonic ‘dualism’ on early Christian philosophy is so well known as to constitute a cliché: the identification of evil matter with flesh, a central vector by which sin operates in Hellenistic Jewish thought, led many writers to determine the material or fleshly body to be a source of evil (for survey, see Fredriksen 2012, esp. 50–90). However, one ancient Christian philosopher, Hermogenes, stands out in having adapted a bicausal, dualistic physics closely resembling the models of Plutarch or especially Numenius (Greschat 2000: 173–191; Pleše 2014: 102 n. 2; Karamanolis 2014: 87). Our only significant source for the thought of Hermogenes is the treatise written against him by Tertullian.7 According to Tertullian, Hermogenes took as his point of departure the idea that the cosmos could have three possible sources: from a source coexisting with God, from divine nature, or from nothing (Tertullian, Against Hermogenes 2.1–4).8 He opted for the source coexisting with God: eternal, disorderly matter which God orders into a cosmos. There are therefore two active principles, eliminating the need for a creatio ex nihilo, which is exactly the position Tertullian seeks to defend (Karamanolis 2014: 83–85). A close parallel to Numenius emerges in Hermogenes’s statement that “it is not by pervading matter that He makes the world, but merely by appearing to it and approaching it, just as beauty affects something by merely appearing to it, and a magnet by merely approaching it.”9 Tertullian mocks Hermogenes on this point, asking “what similarity is there between God fashioning the world and beauty wounding the soul. . . ?” (Against Hermogenes 44.2), perhaps a confused allusion to Numenius’s description of the world-soul approaching matter in its effort to order it and so make it beautiful. Yet the point of Hermogenes’s speculations was ethical: it is matter that explains the presence of sin in human beings and their souls (Tertullian, Marcion 2.9.1–2; An. 1.1, 3.4, 11.2; Greschat 2000: 280; Pleše 2014: 102 n. 2). Tertullian counters that belief in eternal matter elevates matter to the level of the creator, or even renders matter superior to the creator (although Hermogenes appears to have held 73

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otherwise  – Tertullian Hermogenes 4, 7.1; Theophilus, Autolycus 2.4; [anonymous] Refutation 17.1; Greschat 2000: 191–194). Interestingly, Tertullian’s argument is here bound up with one directed against “heathens” who believe that an absolute God may coexist with lower, inferior deities: “no, divinity has no degrees because it is unique; and if divinity is also present in matter, because matter is equally unborn and unmade and eternal, it must be present in both” (Herm., 7.3, tr. Waszink 1956: 36). Rather, Scripture tells us that it is by Wisdom that God has made and ordered the world (Proverbs 8:22; Jeremiah 28:15 – Hermogenes 45). Yet Hermogenes did not only see eternal matter as necessary to explain a creation that is not divine, but to explain creation as a work of divine craftsmanship, in good Platonic fashion (Tertullian, Hermogenes 8.2–3; Greschat 2000: 277).

Controversies over creation: Marcion and Gnosticism The complex of questions regarding providence, evil and personal responsibility was also central to early Christian philosophical discussions of creation. While the Platonic demiurge delegated creation of human bodies and the material world to fallible ‘young gods’ – taken by later Platonists to be daimones – the Stoic deity, the logos, is directly responsible for the creation it permeates. For many Christian thinkers of the second and third centuries, the identification of all creative activity with the preexistent logos was sure (Justin, Trypho 61.3, 129.3; Athenagoras, Embassy 10.2; Theophilus, Autolycus 1.3; Tertullian Hermogenes 33; idem, Marcion 1–2; Clement, Protreptic 63.3 and Stromateis 5.1.6.3; see Scheffczyk 1963: 16–17, 36; Karamanolis 2014: 86–89, 92).10 A problem for this group was the degree to which this identification put God’s own role as creator into question, or, conversely, implicated God in creation at the cost of transcendence. Origen, for instance, identified divine power (dunamis) with the Son or Word, and further with the preexistent Wisdom (Sophia) by which He created everything (Principles 1.2.10; further, ibid., 1.2.3; Origen, Celsus 4.98). By identifying this divine power with God in a sense – like “a flawless mirror,” he writes – Origen seeks to insulate the Father from the ignobility of mundane action while maintaining divine providence (Principles 1.2.12). This method of ‘squaring the circle’ of a deity who is transcendent yet providential contributed to the occasional outbursts of bitheism that pop up in third-century theology, like a climax of Origen’s Dialogue of Heracleides, written in the 240s: Origen said: Do we confess two Gods (homologoumenon duo theous)? Heracleides said: Yes. The power is one (hē dunamis mia estin).11 Irenaeus, on the other hand, emphasized God’s singular creative capacity, describing the logos as one of his ‘hands’ (Against Heresies 4.20.1). Yet the bitheism of Father and logos does not appear to have been his concern, as much as a distinction between a ‘true’ God and a lower deity: He alone is omnipotent and alone the Father who, by the Word of his power, created and made all things. . . . He ordered all things by his Wisdom. He comprehended all things, but himself alone cannot by comprehended by anyone. He is the Builder, he is the Creator, he is the Originator, he is the Maker, he is the Lord of all things. Neither is there anyone beside him nor above him; neither a mother, as they falsely assert, nor another God, whom Marcion imagines. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 2.30.9, tr. Unger and Steenberg 2012: 100)

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Other Christian writers, then, rejected a single creator-God in favor of a sharper division between the deity and a lower creative being – in this passage, the ‘second god’ of Marcion, and the Valentinian ‘mother,’ Wisdom.12 The respective positions of Marcion and the Gnostics concerning creation and worldly evil are similar but not identical, and neatly clarified when rendered in terms of providence. For Marcion, our chief source is again Tertullian. According to Tertullian, heretics are obsessed with the problem of evil, above all Marcion, whose exegesis of Scripture led him to distinguish between a loving, superior God and a lower, vengeful deity: the God of the Jews, responsible for worldly evils and indeed for the creation of the cosmos out of matter (Marcion 1.2.2, 2.14, 1.15.4, respectively; see Pleše 2014: 102–103; Karamanolis 2014: 82; Scott 2015: 35–36). Tertullian also alleges that Marcion believed this same vengeful God to have created human beings, whom the loving God sent Jesus Christ to save (Marcion 1.23.1, 1.23.6–8; Norelli 2002, esp. 116–117, 122). While Marcion was occasionally pilloried as an Epicurean for having described God as demiurgically inactive (Tertullian, Marcion 2.16, 5.19.7), this is misleading. To be sure, Marcion appears to have employed Epicurean arguments denying providence (Marc. 2.5.1–2; Gager 1972), but only directed against the lower, vengeful god and his creation. The loving God is hardly a deus otiosus (‘idle deity’), but sends a savior to redeem humanity – the act of a providential God indeed (Norelli 2002: 119, 129–130; cf. Gager 1972: 57). If the human race is, like the rest of creation, a product of the lower god and thus alien to the greater God, why should the divine act on humankind’s behalf? Unfortunately, the record is silent as to how Marcion explained this intervention of the loving God. The matter is more clear in the descriptions of creation and salvation history in the myths associated with the teaching of the so-called gnōstikoi, ‘knowers’ (on whom, see Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.29–30; Porphyry, Life of Plotinus 16; Brakke 2010). One such myth is preserved in the Apocryphon of John, a compilation some of whose parts were known in some form to Irenaeus, and which survives today in two recensions across four Coptic manuscripts of the fourth–fifth centuries CE, indicating its popularity in antiquity (long recension: NHC II,1 and IV,1; short recension: NHC III,1 and BG 8502,2).13 Language about pronoia is widespread in this work, but also diverse. The theogony of the text, for instance, refers to pronoia interchangeably with Coptic nominal phrases that describe a “first thought” (= forethought) of God the Father (“Spirit”): the generative mother-deity Barbelo, who gives birth to the aeons that comprise the preexistent, noetic realm (NHC II,1.1.4–6.30 and par., passim). This complex of terminology about ‘forethought’ used to describe generation in the noetic realm has parallels in third-century Platonism, particularly Plotinus (Burns 2017: 38–41). Then one of these aeons, Wisdom, unwisely acting “without the will of the Spirit” (NHC II,1.9.28–35), brings forth another being. Her progeny is the monster Yaldabaoth, who steals his mother’s generative power and creates subordinate angels to assist him in constructing his own heaven – a sad reflection of the true creation and heaven that precedes him. Ignorant of the aeonic realm, he declares, “I am a jealous God, and there is no other God beside me” (NHC II,1.13.8–9; cf. Ex 34:14, Isa. 45:5): And a voice came forth from the exalted aeonic heaven (saying): “Man exists, and the Son of Man (exists).” And the first archon, Yaldabaoth, heard it, thinking that the voice had come from his Mother. And he did not know from where it had come. And He, the holy and perfect Mother-Father – He, the perfect providence (pronoia), He, the image of the Invisible one, (the image of) the father of the universe, in whom the universe came into being – He, the First Man, taught them; for he revealed his likeness in masculine form (tupos enandreas). . . . And when all the authorities and the first archon looked, they saw the

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lower part (of the abyss) illuminated; and thanks to the light, they beheld in the water the form of the image. And he (Yaldabaoth) said to (the) authorities before him, “come; let us make man after the image of God, and after our own likeness, so that his image might become a light for us.” (NHC II,1.14.13–15.14) Through her (androgynous) theophany, pronoia here inspires the creation of spiritual humanity, who is made in her likeness. Yaldabaoth and his archons grow fearful of the divine human Adam, and try to imprison and corrupt him in various ways, such as throwing him into matter, encasing him in a body, and implanting sexual desire in him (NHC II,1.19.34–20.9, 20.32– 21.14, 24.26–34, and par., respectively). Each time, an agent of the aeonic realm intervenes on his behalf, particularly in the implanting of a rational faculty in him – a mythologization of the Stoic belief that divine care accompanies rational action (NHC II,1.20.9–31, 23.20–31 and par., passim). The long recension of the text glosses some of these interventions as providential (Barc and Painchaud 1999, esp. 330–331), and concludes with a remarkable “hymn” where the figure of Pronoia herself describes her three descents into “Hell” (the world) to save humanity.14 Ap. John presents us with an understanding of providence and creation that is entirely distinctive when compared to the theorizations of these issues presented earlier in this study: the world was created entirely apart from the will and care of God, but the divine realm intervened in the creation and subsequent fate of human beings, whose noetic or rational faculties are modeled upon the divine. This split in the reach of providential care – to human beings, complete with interventions in salvation history on behalf of individuals, but not to the rest of the created cosmos – has no parallel in the Greek philosophical schools, but is characteristic of other myths resembling the thought of the ‘Gnostics’ known to Irenaeus and Porphyry (Burns 2016; cf. Scheffczyk 1963: 19).15 Other evidence seeks to modulate this ‘Gnostic’ approach to providence and creation, such as Valentinian literature, where the demiurge is sometimes presented as an instrument of providence rather than a being functioning entirely outside of providence’s purview (see e.g. Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.7.4; Epiphanius, Panarion 33.3.6; Tri. Trac. NHC I,5.100.31–32). Our sole complete, surviving Valentinian tract, The Tripartite Tractate, actually emphasizes that the aeonic error which ultimately resulted in creation was nonetheless in accordance with divine will (NHC I,5.77.6–35; cf. also ibid., 107.19–28; see Armstrong 1992: 45; Pleše 2014: 113). Ap. John and other Gnostic texts also differ from the dualism of Marcion, insofar as they identify human beings in some way as native to the divine realm beyond the cosmos, rather than as alien to it (Brakke 2010: 96; Norelli 2002: 122, 124–125; cf. Karamanolis 2014: 64, 78). They also differ from the thought of early Christian philosophers discussed in the previous section, who identified various sources of the experience of evil without divorcing care for the world from care for human beings.16

Conclusions It is thus meaningful to speak, from the standpoint of the history of philosophy, of a ‘Gnostic’ approach to providence and evil; similarly, one can sketch broad trends in early Christian philosophy regarding these same questions, distinct from the other schools of the day. A broad spectrum of early Christian thinkers appear to have affirmed divine care for individuals, a perspective held only on occasion by the Stoa, put at a distance by the Platonists, and rejected wholesale by the Peripatetics and Epicureans. A similarly broad spectrum denoted matter as a source of sin and evil, while identification of daimones with evil demons, stimulated by the popularity of 76

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the Book of the Watchers amongst early Christian writers, led to ambivalence towards or outright rejection of Middle Platonic models where gods of traditional cult administrate providence. Again, theodicies popular among the Stoa, such as the concomitance argument or the assignment of blame for evil to humans alone, were favored by early Christian thinkers. Stoicism, rather than Platonism, furnished the primary point of reference for Christian debate about providence and evil in the first centuries CE. At the same time, it is instructive to recall the social context for these debates. All early Christian practitioners of philosophy belonged, by virtue of their education, to the elite strata of society, and so much of their discourse about providence appears in apologetic contexts where Christianity is being explained by elites to elites, all of whom understood providence as the expression of not only divine but worldly rule. Other pockets of discourse, meanwhile – such as the Marcionite and Gnostic dossier – appear to concern more esoteric questions of Scriptural exegesis, often presuming an investment in Scripture one could only expect of someone on the spectrum of ancient Judaisms and Christianities. The importance of social background to these various explorations of providence and evil is also crucial to understanding developments beyond the first two and a half centuries CE explored here: to take the example of demonology, Porphyry, presents ideas about daimones in his De abstinentia that appear to reflect his engagement with Christian (Enochic?) sources, even if he deigned to cite them (Timotin 2012: 208–215, esp. 213). Conversely, the Platonist view of ‘trickle-down’ administration of providence by intermediary entities was awkward for pre-Constantinian writers like Athenagoras to adapt, but unproblematic by the time of Pseudo-Dionysius’s Celestial Hierarchy, written in an era (fifth–sixth cent. CE?) when it was easy to superimpose a Christian imperial administration upon the ‘angels of the nations’ working in heaven. While the Platonic tradition shut itself off from explicit engagement with biblical prooftexts following Plotinus and Porphyry’s conflict with the Gnostics (Burns 2014a: 147–154), early Christian philosophers were permitted by their new social circumstances to appropriate and innovate the thought of the Platonists in novel ways (cf. Bergjan 2002: 264–306), even as the Stoicizing valence of their thought on providence and evil, so pronounced in the second and third centuries, receded ever further into the horizon.

Notes 1 In the interests of space, this chapter thus omits sustained discussion of post-Constantinian Christian sources. In any case, most – but not all (see conclusion later) – of the arguments regarding providence and evil in late ancient Christian writers (for whom see Walsh and Walsh 1985) go back to the period under discussion here. 2 Min. Fel. Oct. 10.5, tr. Rendall in LCL 250:341, significantly modified; see also Pépin 1976: 118 n. 33. 3 Strom. 6.17.157.5. Translations of this work given here are mine (text: Stählin 1960–1970). See also Spanneut 1957: 329; further, Strom. 6.16.148.6 (on secondary causes mediating universal providence). 4 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid: you are of more value than many sparrows” (tr. NRSV; see further Louth 2007: 286; Scheffczyk 1963: 22). 5 Notably, the Platonic notion of daimones as administrators of providence was unproblematic for Philo (Somn. 1.140–141; Opif. 71). 6 Ael. Gell. Noct. att. 7.1.1–13 = von Arnim 1924: 2:1169–1170 = Long and Sedley 1987: 54Q. On this passage, see Bergjan 2001: 198; Opsomer and Steel 1999: 242. 7 See also [Anon.] Haer. 8.17.1; Eus. Hist. Eccl. 4.24.14. 8 This schema is also known from Plut. Plat. quaest. 1003a; Ir. Haer. 2.1–2; Clem. Strom. 2.16.74.1, cit. Patterson, Methodius, 43 n. 15. 9 Herm. 44.1, tr. Waszink 1956: 82; Greschat 2000: 198–199. For the parallel to Numenius, see Num. frgs. 11, 16; cf. Greschat 2000: 198. 77

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10 The question is more vexed in Philo, who conceived of the relationship between God, the logos, and subordinate angels in creative activity in a variety of ways throughout his corpus. See Frick 1999: 73–87, 108–116; O’Brien 2015: 37–82. 11 Dial. 2.18–27, tr. mine, text in SC 67:58; see Karamanolis 2014: 95. Nonetheless, God qua God alone is to be regarded as a cause, and this is not bicausality, in Origen’s view (so Karamanolis, op. cit. 95, re: Princ. 3.6.7). 12 See also Just. Mart. Dial. 35.4–6; Ir. Haer. 4.18.4, 4.27.4; Karamanolis 2014: 78–79. 13 Translations of Ap. John are my own, with reference to the Coptic text in Waldstein and Wisse 1995. 14 Another Nag Hammadi treatise is a revelation-discourse where this same figure (here called “First Thought,” Prōtennoia) narrates her descents on humanity’s behalf (Three Forms NHC XIII,1*). See further Burns 2017: 45–48. 15 It appears to have also been recognized by Plotinus, to whom it appears to have made little sense (Enn. 2.9 [33] 16.15–17; see Burns 2014a: 88–94). 16 This is not to say that Gnostic literature did not explore ‘non-Gnostic’ theodicies – Ap. John, for instance, includes a narrative of the angels’ descent to seduce human women dependent on the Book of the Watchers (NHC II,1.29.17–30.11 and par.), even though a further explanation for the introduction of sin into the world beyond the evil demiurge is perhaps superfluous. The same work (as well as Orig. World NHC II,5) appears indebted to the tripartite model of gradated providence of the Middle Platonists (Williams 1992).

Bibliography Alt, Karin (1993), Weltflucht und Weltbejahung: Zur Frage des Dualismus bei Plutarch, Numenios, Plotin. Abhandlungen der Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaftlichen Klasse 8, Mainz; Stuttgart: Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur; Steiner. Armstrong, Arthur H. (1992), “Dualism: Platonic, Gnostic, and Christian”, in Richard T. Wallis and Jay Bregman (eds.), Neoplatonism and Gnosticism: Studies in Neoplatonism: Ancient and Modern, 6 vols., Albany: SUNY Press, 33–54. Barc, Bernard and Louis Painchaud (1999), “La réécriture de l’Apocryphon de Jean à la lumière de l’hymne final de la version longue”, Le Muséon 112, 317–333. Bénatouïl, Thomas (2009), “How Industrious Can Zeus Be? The Extent and Objects of Divine Activity in Stoicism”, in Ricardo Salles (ed.), God and the Cosmos in Stoicism, New York: Oxford University Press, 23–45. Bergjan, Silke-Petra (2001), “Celsus the Epicurean? The Interpretation of an Argument in Origen, Contra Celsum”, The Harvard Theological Review 94, 149–204. Bergjan, Silke-Petra (2002), Der Fürsorgende Gott, Der Begriff der ΠΡΟΝΟΙΑ Gottes in der apologetischen Literatur der Alten Kirche. Arbeiten zur Kirchengeschichte 81, Berlin: De Gruyter. Bergjan, Silke-Petra (2015), “Clement of Alexandria on God’s Providence and the Gnostic’s Life Choice: The Concept of Pronoia in the Stromateis, Book VII with Appendix: Fragments from Clement of Alexandria, Περὶ προνοίας”, in Matyáš Havrda, Vít Hušek and Jana Plátová (eds.), The Seventh Book of the Stromateis: Proceedings of the Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (Olomouc, October 21–23, 2010). Vigiliae Christianae Supplement 117, Leiden: Brill, 63–92. Brakke, David (2010), The Gnostics: Myth, Ritual, and Diversity in Early Christianity, Boston: Harvard University Press. Burns, Dylan M. (2014a), Apocalypse of the Alien God: Platonism and the Exile of Sethian Gnosticism: Divinations, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Burns, Dylan M. (2014b), “Care or Prayer? Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho 1.4 Revisited”, Vigiliae Christianae 68.2, 178–191. Burns, Dylan M. (2016), “Providence, Creation, and Gnosticism According to the Gnostics”, Journal of Early Christian Studies 24.1, 55–79. Burns, Dylan M. (2017), “First Thoughts on the Structure of the Apocryphon of John (NHC II,1 and par.) and Divine Providence in ‘Classic Gnostic’ Literature”, in David Brakke, Stephen J. Davis and Stephen

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Emmel (eds.), From Gnostics to Monastics: Studies in Coptic and Early Christianity. Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 263. Louvain: Peeters, 29–54. Colson, Francis H. (ed. and trans.). (1929), Philo: On the Decalogue: On Special Laws. LCL 320. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Cooper, John M. and Douglas S. Hutchinson (eds.). (1997), Plato: Complete Works. Indianapolis: Hackett. Dragona-Monachou, Myrto (1994), “Divine Providence in the Philosophy of the Empire”, ANRW 2.36.7, 4417–4490. Frede, Dorothea (2002), “Theodicy and Providential Care in Stoicism”, in Dorothea Frede and André Laks (eds.), Traditions of Theology: Studies in Hellenistic Theology, Its Background and Aftermath, Leiden: Brill, 85–117. Fredriksen, Paula (2012), Sin: The Early History of an Idea, Princeton, NJ; Oxford: Princeton University Press. Frick, Peter (1999), Divine Providence in Philo of Alexandria. TSAJ 77, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. Gager, John (1972), “Marcion and Philosophy”, Vigiliae Christianae 26, 53–59. Giulea, Dragoş-Andrei (2007), “The Watchers’ Whispers: Athenagoras’s Legatio 25, 1–3 and the Book of the Watchers”, Vigiliae Christianae 61, 266–273. Glover, T. R. and Gerald H. Rendall (eds. and trans.). (1977), Tertullian: Apology, De Spectaculis. Minucius Felix. LCL 250, Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Greschat, Katharina (2000), Apelles und Hermogenes: Zwei theologische Lehrer des zweiten Jahrhunderts. VCSup 10, Leiden, Boston; Köln: Brill. Holmes, Michael W. (ed. and trans.). (2007), The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. Karamanolis, George E. (2014), The Philosophy of Early Christianity. Ancient Philosophies, London: Routledge. Karavites, Peter (1999), Evil, Freedom, & the Road to Perfection in Clement of Alexandria. VCSup 43, Leiden; Boston; Köln: Brill. Long, Anthony A. and David Sedley (eds. and trans.). (1987), The Hellenistic Philosophers, 2 vols., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Louth, Andrew (2007), “Pagans and Christians on Providence”, in J. H. D. Scourfield (ed.), Texts and Culture in Late Antiquity: Inheritance, Authority, and Change, Swansea: The Classical Press of Wales, 279–297. Martin, Jean-Pierre (1982), Providentia deorum: recherches sur certains aspects religieux du pouvoir impérial romain, Roma: Ecole française de Rome. Norelli, Enrico (2002), “Marcion: ein christlicher Philosoph oder ein Christ gegen die Philosophie?” In Gerhard May, Katharina Greschat and Martin Meiser (eds.), Marcion und seine kirchengeschichtliche Wirkung: Vorträge der Internationalen Fachkonferenz zu Marcion, gehalten vom 15. – 19. August  2001 in Mainz. Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur 150, Berlin: De Gruyter, 113–130. O’Brien, Carl Séan (2015), The Demiurge in Ancient Thought: Secondary Gods and Divine Mediators, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Opsomer, Jan (2014), “The Middle Platonic Doctrine of Conditional Fate”, in Pieter d’Hoine and Gerd van Riel (eds.), Fate, Providence and Moral Responsibility in Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Thought: Studies in Honour of Carlos Steel. Ancient and Medieval Philosophy 1, Leuven: Leuven University Press, 137–167. Opsomer, Jan and Carlos Steel (1999), “Evil Without a Cause: Proclus’ Doctrine on the Origin of Evil, and Its Antecedents in Hellenistic Philosophy”, in Therese Fuhrer, Michael Erler and Karin Schlapbach (eds.), Zur Rezeption der hellenistischen Philosophie in der Spätantike: Akten der 1. Tagung der Karl-undGertrud-Abel-Stiftung vom 22. – 25. September 1997 in Trier. Philosophie der Antike 9, Stuttgart: Steiner, 229–260. Parker, Robert (1992), “The Origins of Pronoia: A  Mystery”, in Apodosis: Essays Presented to Dr W. W. Cruickshank to Mark His Eightieth Birthday, London: St. Paul’s School, 84–94. Pépin, Jean (1976), “Prière et providence au 2e siècle”, in Fernand Bossier (ed.), Images of Man: Studia G. Verbeke Dicata, Leuven: Leuven University Press, 111–125.

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Pleše, Zlatko (2014), “Evil and Its Sources in Gnostic Traditions”, in Fabienne Jourdan and Rainer HirschLuipold (eds.), Die Wurzel allen Übels: Vorstellungen über die Herkunft des Bösen und schlechten in der Philosophie und Religion des 1. – 4. Jahrhunderts. Ratio Religionis Studien 3, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 101–132. Russell, Jeffrey Burton (1987), Satan: The Early Christian Tradition, Ithaca; London: Cornell University Press. Scheffczyk, Leo (1963), Schöpfung und Vorsehung. Handbuch der Dogmengeschichte 2.2a, Freiburg, Basel; Wien: Herder. Schoedel, William R. (ed. and trans.). (1972), Athenagoras: Legatio and De Resurrectione. Oxford Early Christian Texts, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Scott, Mark S. M. (2015), Journey Back to God: Origen on the Problem of Evil, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Sharples, Robert W. (2003), “Threefold Providence: The History and Background of a Doctrine”, in Robert W. Sharples and Anne D. R. Sheppard (eds.), Approaches to Plato’s ‘Timaeus’. Bulletin for the Institute of Classical Studies Supplement 78, London: University of London, 107–127. Spanneut, Michel (1957), Le stoicisme des pères de l’église: De Clément de Rome à Clément d’Alexandrie, Paris: Faculté des lettres. Stählin, Otto (ed.). (1960–1970), “Stromateis”, in Clemens Alexandrinus, 3 vols., Berlin: Akademie. Timotin, Andrei (2012), La démonologie platonicienne: Histoire de la notion de daimōn de Platon aux derniers néoplatoniciens. Philosophia Antiqua 128, Leiden; Boston: Brill. Unger, Dominic J. and Matthew Craig Steenberg (trans.). (2012), St. Irenaeus of Lyons: Against the Heresies Book 2. Revised by John J. Dillon. ACW 65, New York; Mahwah, NJ: Newman. VanderKam, James C. (1996), “1 Enoch, Enochic Motifs, and Enoch in Early Christian Literature”, in James C. vanderKam and William Adler (eds.), The Jewish Apocalyptic Heritage in Early Christianity. Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum ad Novum Testamentum 3.4, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 33–101. von Arnim, Johannes (ed.). (1924), Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta, 4 vols., Stuttgart: Teubner. Waldstein, M. and F. Wisse (1995), The Apocryphon of John: Synopsis of Nag Hammadi Codices II.2; III.1; and IV.1, Leiden: Brill. Walsh, James and P. G. Walsh (1985), Divine Providence & Human Suffering. Message of the Fathers of the Church 17, Wilmington: Michael Glazier. Waszink, Jan H. (trans.). (1956), Tertullian: The Treatise Against Hermogenes. Ancient Christian Writers, Westminster; London: Newman Press; Longmans, Green and Co. Williams, Michael Allen (1992), “Higher Providence, Lower Providences and Fate in Gnosticism and Middle Platonism”, in Richard T. Wallis and Jay Bregman (eds.), Neoplatonism and Gnosticism. Studies in Neoplatonism: Ancient and Modern, 6, Albany: SUNY Press, 483–507.

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7 Ethics Teresa Morgan

History as the assurance of things hoped for In the preface to his 1889 translation of Christoph Ernst Luthardt’s History of Christian Ethics, William Hastie welcomes the ‘methodical cultivation of Christian Ethics’ as one of the achievements of the modern German research university.1 Every age, says Hastie, faces its own ethical problems, and ‘[t]he student of Christian Ethics is thus thrown back upon the whole historical movement as the natural enlargement of his own individuality and experience’.2 Only by studying the past can Christians understand what Christian ethics should be today. Luthardt’s pioneering survey gives an account of Christian ethics as a system, together with its main themes, in its complex cultural context. Volume 1 begins with Greek philosophy, the ‘popular moral theory’ of Rome, Buddhism, and ancient Israelite religion, before treating the New Testament, the early Church, and the Middle Ages. Luthardt considers the shape and logic of patristic thinking: how human beings relate to God and nature, and how those relationships shape the possibilities for right human attitudes and actions. Examining a huge range of Christian (including ‘Gnostic’) writings, he identifies the major concerns of early churches as including love, covetousness, patience, marriage, celibacy, humility, and murder. He sums up the ‘moral state of the ancient Church’ as characterized by the cultivation of charity, a positive attitude towards slaves, protection of the poor, the care of orphans and foundlings, asceticism, and a general concern with palliating the evils of this world.3 Luthardt’s inductive reading of the sources leads him to discuss a wide range of topics, to take an interest in the structures and processes of ethical thinking, and to reflect on Christianity’s evolving relationship with its environment. His approach raises the questions how we define early Christian ethics and what we should include in a volume on early Christian philosophy. The study of ethics is the study of how individuals and groups discuss how they should live: what, for instance, it is right or good, sweet or desirable, necessary or possible to do, and why.4 Ethics is studied especially within philosophy, theology, history, anthropology, and sociology. Sometimes these disciplines seek to distinguish their subject matter from that of their neighbours’, and sometimes they treat the same material in different ways. In a volume about Christian philosophy, should our sources meet certain criteria of intellectual sophistication, determined by themselves or us (so that, for instance, Augustine’s On the 81

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Trinity might be included but the Didache or Sentences of Sextus excluded)? Should works with a strong interest in the practical application of their ideas be included or not? Modern academic philosophy does not tend to preach, but ancient philosophers frequently did, and most, if not all early Christian writers had an interest in the practical application of ethical ideas. Where should we draw the boundary between philosophical ethics and ethics as an aspect of social life and thought, or is drawing any such boundary in early Christian thinking unjustified? When Clement of Alexandria, for instance, calls pistis a virtue (Strom. 2.1), he catches the attention of philosophers, but in the same chapter he calls pistis the beginning of Christian action. When he tells a wife that she is helping her husband in pistis by fulfilling her sexual obligations to him (Strom. 3.18.108), he catches the attention of historians, but for Clement a wife’s behaviour is as theologically based as any other consequence of pistis. Which do we include in a study of Christian philosophy? Should we take the disciplinary affiliations of modern scholars into account in deciding what to discuss? When Peter Brown writes about Augustine’s view of the body, his approach is historical; when Rowan Williams writes about it, his approach is theological: should we include only the latter, or both? Should we prefer an ‘insider’ or ‘outsider’ approach to the material, or make use of both?5 ‘Insider’ approaches tend to focus on topics of current Christian concern and how patristic writings may shed light on them; ‘outsider’ approaches seek to understand patristic writings on their own terms, in historical context.6 Both approaches have long pedigrees in modern scholarship, but not all scholars would validate both.7 What follows will take an inclusive approach to both ancient and modern writing. I will assume that all early Christian writers understand right Christian attitudes, actions, and relationships as rooted in the salvific relationship between God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the faithful. As such, all early Christian ethical thinking, however sophisticated or otherwise, is rooted in theological thinking, and theological thinking is at least informally or implicitly philosophical, in the sense that it seeks a coherent understanding of the divine–human relationship. I  shall include in the discussion the large body of recent scholarship that takes a historical and sociological approach to the sources, because it discusses ethical topics which early Christian writers would have recognized as theologically and philosophically grounded. What this chapter cannot do, however, is to offer a systematic, up-to-date account of patristic ethics of the kind which Luthardt pioneered, because Luthardt’s and Hastie’s enthusiasm for the subject proved to be a false dawn. By 1890, patristic ethics seemed poised to become a major field of research. Several other monographs, less ambitious in scale than Luthardt’s but similar in approach, appeared around the same time.8 A flurry of more detailed studies followed the discovery of the Didache in 1873 and the Apology of Aristides in 1878.9 Then, for several decades, very little happened. A handful of essays emerged comparing early Christian with Stoic ethics.10 The interwar years provoked some writing on two consuming contemporary concerns, war and sex, which referred to early churches.11 Scholars of Augustine took an increasing interest in his moral theology.12 But it became a topos of patristic scholarship to lament how little work had yet been done on ethics. H. H. Scullard regrets it in 1907.13 In 1912, Ernst Troeltsch claims that he felt compelled to write a history of early Christian ethics because none existed.14 In his preface to Ethical Patterns in Early Christian Thought, Eric Osborn quotes Ian Ramsey, in 1966, asserting the urgent need for a study of early Christian moral theology as a basis for modern principles.15 In 2008, Francine Cardman, writing on early Christian ethics for the Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies, could still describe ethics as an emerging field with, as yet, no clear parameters.16 For Osborn, the major difficulty is the sheer volume of patristic writing (though this has not noticeably deterred scholars from studying patristic theology). His solution is to identify what 82

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he argues are four key ‘ethical patterns’ in early Christian thinking – righteousness, discipleship, faith, and love – and to sample them in the writings of Clement of Alexandria, Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, and Augustine. Osborn’s approach proved fruitful and has been followed by most scholars since the 1960s. The study of early Christian ethics is currently largely the study a limited number of themes which are seen as important both in early churches and today.17 Rather than devoting the rest of this chapter to a survey of the field as it stands,18 I will trace recent developments relatively briefly before turning to some of the developments in adjacent disciplines which might productively inform future research. In the last section, I will suggest how study of this vast, fascinating, and centrally important aspect of early Christian thought and practice might evolve in the next generation.

Recent developments in patristic ethics The second significant phase in the study of early Christian ethics was prefigured by Troeltsch and the History of Religion School which, informed by the new discipline of sociology, treated ethical thinking in the context of the social and institutional evolution of Christian communities. It developed substantially, however, in the 1960s. Several tides in scholarship and wider society converged to create the new wave. Historians were becoming increasingly interested in late antique history, including in Christian institutions, patterns of behaviour, and social relations. Women’s history, the history of the body, and the history of gender and sexuality were gaining recognition as new fields. From the 1950s, liberation theology began to give a voice to the poor and oppressed; churches, especially the Roman Catholic Church, responded with increasing interest in a range of ethical issues, from justice and peace to wealth and equality, and sought foundations for their thinking in New Testament and patristic writings.19 The bulk of scholarship over the past fifty years has clustered around a small group of topics with their roots in the social and intellectual concerns of the 1960s: notably the body and sexual ethics; the lives of women; wealth and poverty; euergetism; sin and repentance; and the justice of war. Most, though not all, of these are also major topics of discussion in patristic writings, but between them they by no means offer a comprehensive picture of early Christian ethical thinking. Recent years have seen relatively little interest, for example, in such topics as faith, love, obedience, and humility and also relatively little interest in the foundations and logic of ethical ideas which connect them with theology and ecclesiology. In studies of early Christian women, ethics is largely subsumed under what has become a large and complex field encompassing studies of women’s lives and representations of women, virginity, marriage, martyrdom, monasticism, asceticism, wealth, power, privilege, and dress.20 Most of this work identifies itself as belonging to social history rather than the history of ethics, though it deals constantly with discourses about how women should behave. The study of early Christian women is also, of course, part of women’s history, and as such takes a nuanced approach to power, exploring how various Christian styles of life affected women’s power, status, or freedom in relation to their families, churches, and wider society. Scholarship on the body and asceticism took a leap forward with Peter Brown’s The Body and Society, which linked ideas about the body, asceticism, marriage, virginity, martyrdom, spirituality, politics, and society in a characteristically bold and influential synthesis.21 Brown’s view of Christian understandings of the body as highly political, first challenging Greek and Roman values and behaviours and later reimagining them, has informed almost all subsequent work.22 Recent writing has often focused on individual authors and works, from the apocryphal gospels to the Cappadocian Fathers, adding to our understanding of their thought and sometimes connecting it more closely with their theology.23 83

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In contrast with both the study of Christian ideas about gender and the study of Greek and Roman sexuality, which has become a large field since the publication of Foucault’s History of Sexuality, rather few studies explore patristic ideas about sexuality or the erotic.24 The reason lies at least partly in the location of contemporary discussions about sexuality. Much of the keenest debate focuses on homosexuality in the modern sense, and has taken place in reformed churches, above all churches which identify as evangelical. These take a high view of the authority of scripture, and in debate appeal to the Bible rather than to patristic writings.25 Another field in which Catholic social thought has fostered interest, and which Peter Brown has helped to shape in a series of monographs, is that of early Christian thinking about poverty, wealth, and euergetism.26 The broad outlines of patristic thinking here are reasonably clear: spiritual wealth is superior to temporal; poverty of spirit is always to be embraced; material poverty is to be embraced in certain contexts, such as monasticism, though it is never preached for all; those who are unavoidably poor should be supported by their communities. Within these outlines, recent studies have revealed both how complex a phenomenon poverty is in the world Christians inhabited, and how nuanced patristic thinking about it can be. They have shown how care for the poor becomes especially the responsibility of bishops, and drawn out both the similarities and many subtle differences between mainstream Greek and Roman euergetism and Christian almsgiving.27 Connected with writing about poverty, though properly a topic in its own right, is slavery, where writing has focused on locating early Christian ideas of slavery in their contemporary context to help us separate ancient from modern perspectives.28 Sin and repentance are central to Christian thinking from the beginning of the tradition, and sin and repentance among community members continue to be concerns throughout the patristic period, even when crises such as the Donatist controversy do not throw them into high relief. As Allan Fitzgerald has observed, given the importance of the topic for early Christians, the wide range of attitudes to it in early writings, and the volume of scholarship on it in New Testament studies, it is surprising that more has not been written on sin and repentance in early churches. Fitzgerald characterizes the trend in patristic thinking as broadly moving from severity to mercy.29 Subsequent scholarship has focused on the complexity of ideas in individual authors and writings, and sought tentatively to identify other longer-term trends in thinking.30 Early Christian attitudes to war are also very varied, and – until Augustine’s discussion of just war – less heavily theologized than many ethical themes. They have attracted attention, nevertheless, because war and peace are key topics of contemporary ethical debate.31 Augustine’s writing about war has been discussed extensively since the early twentieth century, and linked, among other themes, with his theologies of love, freedom, penitence, and social justice.32 In the early twenty-first century, discussions of just war have been extended to inform discussions of new practices of espionage and counter-terrorism.33 A list of topics, identified by Luthardt and his contemporaries as important to patristic writers, which have subsequently been relatively little discussed, or which have been discussed as part of theology or political thought rather than ethics, would be long and (at least superficially) centrifugal; it might include, for example, evil, love, the just society, corruption in public life, and the common good. A number of studies explore early Christian ideas of free will, which is treated as part of ethics by Greek philosophers.34 A great many studies touch on ethical themes in the course of discussing an author’s or a work’s theology: the list of Augustinian studies, alone, that could come under this heading would be enormous. A handful of studies pursue themes and debates which are important in the New Testament – such as whether pistis Iēsou Christou carries an ethical meaning – into the patristic period, more with the aim of illuminating New Testament usage than because the topic is central to later writings.35 84

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Recent scholarship has tended not to share the interest of the early generation in investigating the internal logic of Christian ethics or explicating its relationship with theology. There has, though, been some interest in the moral reasoning of individual writers and in the Church fathers’ use of scripture as a basis for their views.36 There continues to be a good deal of interest in the relationship between Christian and Greek philosophical ethics, and since philosophers are deeply interested in the coherence or otherwise of Greek thinking, these studies point to ways in which Christian thought may be more or less systematic. The steady growth of interest in virtue ethics in philosophy has prompted some studies of early Christian thinking as a form of virtue ethics.37 In addition to studies whose primary focus is early Christian writings and society themselves, patristic writings have been invoked (with more or less nuance and more or less attention to their original context) in support of a wide range of contemporary ethical concerns. These include the ethics of big business, markets, and management,38 economics,39 evolution and ecology,40 and the treatment of disabilities.41 A significant number of doctoral theses have also been written in the past decade, especially in Europe and North America, on aspects of patristic ethics, which suggests that the subject may gain more momentum in the next generation. Most of these take up familiar subjects (women’s lives; asceticism; poverty) and follow well trodden paths of analysis, but a handful are notable for striking out in new directions: among them studies of Augustine’s moral reasoning, John Chrysostom’s ethical relationship with his congregations, and second and third century treatments of suffering.42

Developments in related disciplines Away from patristics, the study of ethics has evolved significantly in recent decades in a number of fields relevant to the study of early Christianity. The relationship between Christian ethics and Hellenistic philosophy has interested scholars since the nineteenth century, and recent studies have compared diverse aspects of Stoic, Platonist and Cynic with Christian ethical thinking.43 It is now well recognized that for many Greek philosophers, philosophy is not only a way of thinking but a way of life – even a way of spiritual life – which often involves following in the footsteps of a charismatic leader.44 There is scope for exploring further the parallels and interactions between philosophical schools and early churches. George Boys-Stones’ Post-Hellenistic Philosophy, for example, sheds new light on the relationship between history, genealogy, and intellectual debate, by showing how philosophical schools invoke myths and traditions about wise individuals and groups to validate philosophical positions, very much as Jews and Christians do.45 A handful of studies of early Christian ethics have compared them with ancient or modern versions of ‘virtue ethics’,46 but no study that I know of has made use of the relatively new and fast-growing field of the ‘ethics of care’.47 The ethics of care begins from the recognition that human beings are created and nurtured in and by relationships.48 Care is fundamental to human life and flourishing, and as such is argued to be the fundamental human good. The theory recognizes that human beings have different kinds and degrees of interdependence and care for one another, and that one’s position in a caring relationship determines much of what else is good or bad for one. A child or an elderly person who is being looked after, for example, may have less power of self-determination than does an adult who does not need looking after, and this may be appropriate and good. The ethics of care has obvious potential as a model for thinking about Christian ethics, which is based on human beings’ foundational relationship with the God who created them, saves, and continues to sustain them. What constitutes a good attitude or activity for a Christian 85

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is by definition what (re)creates and maintains a good relationship with the triune God, and with other parts of God’s creation. Exploring Christian ethics as decisively shaped by these relationships has the potential to shed new light on early Christian thinking. In the past half-century, ethics has become a major field of anthropology. The foundations were laid by Ruth Benedict in Patterns of Culture, Mary Douglas in Purity and Danger, and by theologian Abraham Edel and anthropologist May Edel in Anthropology and Ethics.49 All four are interested in the socially specific shape of ethical systems in different societies: where ethical ideas come from, what the key ideas and terms are in different societies, and how ethics relate to other social structures and cultural practices. All take for granted that ethical ideas are acknowledged and articulated not only by social, intellectual, or religious elites, but up and down the social scale. They are interested in the many forms in which ethical ideas are transmitted, including proverbs, injunctions, metaphors, myths, and fables, and in how members of a society use such material to reason with. Their approaches have been adopted widely by anthropologists and sociologists. Some of these have also taken an interest in the role of time and place in morality, and in the dynamics of power between those who assume responsibility for the ethics of a social group – such as rulers, priests, intellectuals, interpreters of texts – and other members of the group.50 Many of the themes explored by anthropologists have been touched on in studies of early Christian ethics, but there is scope for them to be much more thoroughly explored. In a recent study, I adapted the methods of ethical anthropology to the study of Roman ‘popular’ morality: the ethics of those below the level of the social and intellectual elites who wrote most of our surviving texts. Popular Morality in the Early Roman Empire looks for patterns in sub-elite moral thinking: which values, for instance, are central or peripheral and which are validated, regarded as important but problematic, or marked negatively. It explores the terminology of popular moral thinking, which distinguishes between absolute, natural, social, and functional goods, and the wide range of moral authorities to which sub-elite sayings and stories appeal. It considers sub-elite understandings of time, which include a strong doctrine of the kairos, the ‘right time’ which, if one responds rightly to it, may radically change one’s situation and prospects. These ideas are the common currency of Greek and Roman society under the principate.51 Characteristic of sub-elite groups, and in many cases almost certainly arising in them, they also ‘trickle up’ to influence the ethical thinking of philosophers.52 As such, they form a large part of the ethical background and assumptions of early Christians, and are as significant as Hellenistic philosophy as context for Christian thinking. In the past two generations, there has been increasing interest in the ethical thinking of Hellenistic and Roman civic elites, especially as expressed epigraphically: in records, for instance, of interstate diplomacy, in honorific inscriptions, and on tombstones; in city centres, religious centres, and necropoleis. Richmond Lattimore’s groundbreaking Themes in Greek and Latin Epitaphs drew on sources from across the classical world and revealed their often widely shared attitudes to family, fortune, fate, and death.53 Elizabeth Forbis’ study of the language of virtue and praise in honorific inscriptions and patronage lists of the early principate shows how distinctive patterns may emerge in the ethical thinking of certain groups.54 An ongoing series of studies explores networks of ethical thinking in the cities of Asia Minor, from where particularly rich evidence survives.55 Comparing groups of inscriptions from around the Hellenistic and Roman Mediterranean – whether by location, date, or genre – and setting them against literary evidence of different social groups, including philosophers and sub-elites, has changed and enriched our understanding of the ethical landscape in which Christianity developed. This material now forms essential context for students of early Christianity as they investigate what was conventional or unconventional, familiar or radically novel about Christian ethics. In Against Apion (2.170–171), 86

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Josephus strikingly asserts that Moses did not make piety (eusebeia) a department of virtue (as, he implies, it is for the Greeks), but made the virtues parts of piety.56 For Jews, it is devotion to God – which Josephus might equally have characterized as love, obedience, service, or worship – that is the focus of the human side of the divine–human relationship. If Josephus had Greek philosophy in mind when he made the comparison, it is not unfair, though one might argue that, in the context of cult practice, piety, or worship dominates Greeks’ and Romans’ sense of their relationship with the divine as strongly as it does that of Jews.57 For this chapter, however, Josephus’ distinction is apropos, because it makes the double point that, for Jews, ethical ­thinking is not the first route one would take into thinking about divine–human relations, and that it is not irrelevant. A similar observation has led a number of scholars of rabbinic Judaism to develop the field of rabbinic ethics.58 In 1998, Louis Newman observed, in an unconscious echo of a series of writers on Christian ethics, that one would have expected Jewish ethics to emerge as a field from the late nineteenthcentury Wissenschaft des Judentums in German universities, but that somehow it never did.59 He seeks to create a field of rabbinic ethics by focusing on the relationship between ethics and the law: specifically, the idea of lifnim mishurat hadin, moral actions which go beyond the requirements of the law.60 In his 2010 study What is Good, and What God Demands, Tzvi Novick develops this approach further, arguing that although Tannaitic normativity is in principle deontological – it tells one what to do and not to do – in various ways the rabbinic schools go beyond it, introducing elements of ethical choice into the keeping of the law. He compares the schools of Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Ishmael, showing how their different visions of the relationship between the law and the world allow for different approaches to keeping the law which involve different attitudes, for instance, to free will, duty, and enthusiasm.61 He analyses how tannaitic literature employs diverse ethical genres, drawing especially on the tradition of exemplarity in Greek and Roman popular morality.62 Writing on rabbinic ethics is important for scholars of early Christianity on two levels. It explores the thinking of rabbis with whom some Christians continued to be in contact throughout antiquity, and offers a model of how to write the ethics of a community for which piety, together with love and worship, are the most important ways in which the human side of the divine–human relationship is articulated. And rabbinic studies do not, like much writing about early Christianity, typically begin from contemporary concerns; they follow the ethical concerns of the sources, their categories of thought and forms of reasoning. As a result, they sometimes reveal the rabbis thinking in ways, or about topics – suffering, duty, ageing, or death – that surprise us, or which we only realize after some consideration are relevant to modern concerns. Since the early twentieth century, few studies of patristic ethics have taken this approach, but it has rich potential.63

Conclusion: What might a future field of patristic ethics look like? These observations raise a further question: granted that patristic ethics, as a field, is currently still inchoate and fragmentary, what might it look like in the foreseeable future? What should it look like? As a starting point, I propose the following:   1 It should approach the sources inductively as well as deductively, seeking to understand their ethical concerns in their own terms as well as using them to illuminate topics of current interest.   2 It should pay attention to the diverse styles of ethical thinking employed by Christian writers, as well as seeking the most illuminating modern theories through which to read them. 87

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  3 It should recognize the significance of the many genres in which ethical ideas are expressed, from stories and sayings to discourses and sermons, buildings and images.64   4 It should not seek a priori to segregate intellectually sophisticated Christian writings from the less sophisticated, the productions of other genres, or the everyday concerns of Christians as ethical agents. Ethical thinking takes place in many genres and contexts, and Christian writers and craftsmen are also community members, so ethical ideas and practices are always likely to be in dialogue across genres and contexts.65   5 It should take account of the interactions between Christian ethical thinking and that of other groups within the Roman empire and beyond, including imperial and local elites, sub-elites, and groups who do not identify primarily as Greek or Roman (especially Jews, but also, for example, Egyptians, Syrians, or Celts).   6 It should be alert to variations and tensions in ethical thinking and practice both within and between Christian groups, including groups which differ theologically, socially, or in geographical location.   7 It should pay attention to both continuity and change in Christian thinking through time.   8 Recognizing that Christians describe every aspect of the divine–human relationship using ethical language, it should explore systematically the relationship between ethics, theology, ecclesiology, and eschatology.   9 It should explore the ways in which Christians who hold the same doctrines may colour their accounts of the divine–human relationship in ethically different terms, or in different terms for different purposes. It should reflect on how these variations shaped Christians’ sense of their faith. One writer, for instance, may emphasize the importance of trust, another that of knowledge; one may emphasize the importance of practising the cardinal virtues where another speaks of the importance of honouring God in the language of patronage. The same writer may use a different colour in addressing catechumens or fellow clergy, or in scriptural commentary. All these variations may affect community members’ sense of what being a Christian involves. 10 It should attend to the ways in which patristic writings and art interact with scripture and the developing canon. 11 It should consider the varied ways in which patristic sources characterize the relationship between faith and religious practice, or faith and works. 12 It should look for both coherence and miscellaneity in ethical thinking, and seek to interpret both. 13 It should recognize its own importance. Ethical concepts and practices are intrinsic to relationships, both divine–human and intra-human, and ethical thinking is fundamental if any community is to organize itself, negotiate its inevitable tensions and difficulties, and survive. Like all sociocultural systems from language to law, ethics has a structure – a ­g rammar – which is distinctive and constitutive of the group it belongs to. The structure and operation of Christian ethics merit as much attention as other formative aspects of Christian life and thought as we seek to understand how early churches developed in a formative period of their history.

Notes 1 Christoph Ernst Luthardt, History of Christian Ethics, Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1889 (German edn. 1888), vol. 1, p. vii. There is no consistency in the usage ‘ethics’ and ‘morality’ across or within disciplines. Sometimes ‘morality’ is used of ‘religious’ ideas and ‘ethics’ of ‘secular’; sometimes the reverse; some scholars use them interchangeably. 2 Luthardt, History, vol. 1, p. xvii. 3 Luthardt, History, vol. 1, pp. 256–270. 88

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4 For an interdisciplinary discussion of definitions and approaches, see Teresa Morgan, Popular Morality in the Early Roman Empire, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1–3, 9–13. 5 On this debate in the study of religions in general, see Russell T. McCutcheon, The Insider/Outsider Problem in the Study of Religion, London: Cassell, 1999. 6 Some ‘outsider’ approaches go further and, rather than seeking to interpret the sources in their own terms, focus, for instance, on what the researcher understands as their social function. This approach has been widespread in the study of other ancient religions, but has not tended to characterize writing on early Christianity. 7 My own view is that both are valid and that historical approaches can also usefully inform theological approaches, because they may draw attention to issues that do not currently concern community members but are be worth discussing. 8 Notably Theobald Ziegler, Geschichte der christlichen Ethik, Strassburg: Karl J. Trübner, 1886; Henry Sidgwick, Outlines of the History of Ethics for English Readers, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1886. 9 E.g. Adolf von Harnack, Die Lehre der zwölf Apostel, Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1884; Gaston BoneyMaury, La doctrine des douze Apôtres, Paris: Librarie Fischbacher Société Anonyme, 1884; Philip Schaff, The Oldest Church Manual, Edinburgh: T&T Clark,1885; Alfred Seeberg, Die Didache des Judentums und der Urchristenheit, Leipzig: Deichert, 1906; Helen Balkwill Harris, The Newly Rediscovered Apology of Aristides, Its Doctrine and Ethics, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1891. 10 Leonard Alston, Stoic and Christian in the Second Century, London: Longmans, Green, 1906; Theodor Rüther, Die sittliche Forderung der Apatheia in den beiden ersten christlichen Jahrhunderten, Freiburg: Herder, 1910; Heinrich Greeven, Das Hauptproblem der Sozialethik in der neueren Stoa und im Urchristentum, Gütersloh: C. Bertelsmann, 1935. 11 Robert Briffault, Sin and Sex, London: Allen and Unwin, 1931; Walter J. Carey, Thinking Straight About This War, London: A. R. Mowbray & Co., 1939; Cecil John Cadoux, The Early Christian Attitude to War, London: Allen and Unwin, 1940. 12 James Bissett Pray, “The Ethics of Augustine”, International Journal of Ethics 13 (1903), 222–235; Jean Rohmer, La finalité morale chez les théologiens de saint Augustin à Duns Scot, Paris: J. Vrin, 1939; Thomas Deman, Le traitement scientifique de la morale chrétienne selon saint Augustin, Montréal: Institut d’Etudes médiévales, 1957; Franz Körner, Vom Sein und Sollen des Menschen: die existenialotologischen Grundlagen der Ethik in Augustinischer Sicht, Paris: Études augustiniennes, 1963; Cornelius Mayer, Alexander Eisgrub, and Guntram Förster eds., Augustinus – Ethik und Politik: zwei Würzburger Augustinus-Studientage, “Aspekte der Ethik bei Augustinus” (11. Juni 2005), “Augustinus und die Politik” (24 Juni 2006), Würzburg: Augustinus-Verlag bei Echter, 2009; Kerem Eksen, “ ‘Ethics’, ‘morality’, and the Augustine liberum arbitrium debate”, Problemos 76 (2009), 74–85. 13 H. H. Scullard, Early Christian Ethics in the West, from Clement to Ambrose, London: Williams and Norgate, 1907: 1. 14 Ernst Troeltsch, The Social Teaching of the Christian Churches, London: Allen and Unwin, 1931 (German edn. 1912), pp. 23–25. 15 Eric Osborn, Ethical Patterns in Early Christian Thought, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976, p. vii. Cf. Eric Osborn, “Ethics”, in Angelo di Berardino and Adrian Walford eds., Encyclopedia of the Early Church, New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. 16 Francine Cardman, “Early Christian Ethics”, in Susan Ashbrook Harvey and David G. Hunter eds., The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Ethics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008, pp. 932–956, 932. 17 Peter van Nuffelen, “Social Ethics and Moral Discourse in Late Antiquity”, in Johan Leemans, Brian J. Matz, and Johan Verstraeten eds., Reading Patristic Texts on Social Ethics, Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 2011, pp. 45–63, 35 argues that there is no coherence in patristic moral discourse as there (arguably) is in theology. In fact, considerable coherence is visible in the topics that have been well worked in the past fifty years. Until the field is better explored, it is unclear how coherent ethical thinking is elsewhere. A large group of sources created in diverse circumstances with diverse agendas will not be entirely coherent, but there is nothing unusual or problematic about this in the field of ethics. 18 For recent surveys see Cardman, “Early Christian Ethics”; J. Philip Wogaman, Christian Ethics: A Historical Introduction, Louisville: Presbyterian Publishing, 2011, pp. 25–62; George Forell, History of Christian Ethics, Volume I from the New Testament to Augustine, Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1979; Jan Womer, Morality and Ethics in Early Christianity, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987. 19 On the problems of applying patristic ethics to modern situations, see Susan R. Holman, “Out of the Fitting Room: Rethinking Patristic Social Texts on ‘the Common Good’ ”, in Johan Leemans, Brian J. Matz, and Johan Verstraeten eds., Reading Patristic Texts on Social Ethics: Issues and Challenges 89

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for Twenty-First Century Christian Thought, Washington: Catholic University Press of America, 2011, pp. 103–123. 20 E.g. Gillian Clark, Women in Late Antiquity, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993; Willy Rordorf, “Marriage in the New Testament and in the Early Church”, in Everett Ferguson ed., Christian Life: Ethics, Morality and Discipline in the Early Church, New York: Garland, 1993, pp. 141–158; Kate Cooper, The Virgin and the Bride, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996; Michael L. Budde and Karen Scott eds., Witness of the Body: The Past, Present and Future of Christian Martyrdom, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011; Kristi Upson-Saia, Early Christian Dress: Gender, Virtue, and Authority, New York: Routledge, 2011; Candida Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies and Traditions, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012; Thomas J. Heffernan, The Passion of Perpetua and Felicity, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012; Catherine M. Chin and Caroline T. Schroeder, Melania: Early Christianity Through the Life of One Family, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017. 21 Peter Brown, The Body and Society, New York: Columbia University Press, 1988. 22 Amy-Jean Levine and Maria Mayo Robbins eds., A Feminist Companion to Patristic Literature, London: T&T Clark, 2008; Rebecca Krawiec, “Asceticism”, in Susan Ashbrook Harvey and David G. Hunter eds., The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Ethics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008, pp. 764–785. 23 E.g. Pascal-Grégoire Delage ed., Les Pères de l’Eglise et la chair, Royan, Carispatrum, 2012; Raphael Cadenhead, “Corporeality and Askesis: Ethics and Bodily Practice in Gregory of Nyssa’s Theological Anthropology”, Studies in Christian Ethics 26 (2013), 281–299; Yves Tissot, “Encratism and the Apocryphal Acts”, in Andrew Gregory, Tobias Nicklas, Christopher M. Tuckett, and Joseph Verheyden eds., The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Apocrypha, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 407– 423; Judith Hartenstein, “Encratism, Asceticism, and the Construction of Gender and Sexual Identity in the Apocryphal Gospels”, in Andrew Gregory, Tobias Nicklas, Christopher M. Tuckett, and Joseph Verheyden eds., The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Apocrypha, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015, 389–406. 24 Though see e.g. Kyle Harper, From Shame to Sin: The Christian Transformation of Sexual Morality in Late Antiquity, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013. 25 Exceptions include John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980; Richard Nunan, “Catholics and Evangelical Protestants on Homoerotic Desire: Augustine vs. Pelagius”, Biblical Theology Bulletin 40 (2010), 37–51; Naomi Koltun-Fromm, Hermeneutics of Holiness: Ancient Jewish and Christian Notions of Sexuality, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010; William R. G. Loader, Making Sense of Sex: Attitudes Towards Sexuality in Early Jewish and Christian Literature, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013. 26 Peter Brown, Poverty and Leadership in the Later Roman Empire, Hanover: University Press of New England, 2002; Peter Brown, Through the Eye of the Needle, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012; Peter Brown, The Ransom of the Soul, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015. For an overview of studies of the body and euergetism up to 2008, see Cardman, “Early Christian Ethics”, pp. 937–941. 27 Notably Geoffrey de Ste Croix, Early Christian Attitudes to Property and Slavery, Oxford: Blackwell, 1975; Valerio Neri, I marginali nell’occidente tardoantico, Bari: Edipuglia, 1998; Susan Holman, ‘The Hungry Are Dying’: Beggars and Bishops in Roman Cappadocia, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001; Richard Finn, Almsgiving in the Later Roman Empire, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006; P.-G. Delage ed., Le Pères de l’Eglise et la voix des pauvres, Paris: Cerf, 2006; Sophie Lunn-Rockliffe, ‘A Pragmatic Approach to Poverty and Riches: Ambrosiaster’s quaestio 124”, in E. M. Atkins and Robin Osborne eds., Poverty in the Roman World, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006, pp. 115–129; Lucy Grig, “Throwing Parties for the Poor: Poverty and Splendour in the Late Antique Church”, in E. M. Atkins and Robin Osborne eds., Poverty in the Roman World, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006, pp. 145–161. On the connected but separate topic of usury, see e.g. Robert P. Maloney, “The Teaching of the Fathers on Usury: An Historical Study of the Development of Christian Thinking”, Vigiliae Christianae 27 (1973), 241–265; Thomas Moser, Die patristische Zinslehre und ihre Ursprünge, Winterthur: H. Schellenberg, 1997; Brenda Llewellyn Ihssen, “ ‘That Which Has Been Wrung from Tears”: Usury, the Greek Fathers, and Catholic Social Teaching”, in Johan Leemans, Brian J. Matz, and Johan Verstraeten eds., Reading Patristic Texts on Social Ethics: Issues and Challenges for Twenty-First Century Christian Thought, Washington: Catholic University Press of America, 2011, pp. 124–160. 28 Jennifer A. Glancy, Slavery in Early Christianity, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002; Chris L. de Wet, Preaching Bondage: John Chrysostom and the Discourse of Slavery in Early Christianity, Oakland: 90

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University of California Press, 2015; Marianne Bjelland Kartzow, The Slave Metaphor and Gendered Enslavement in Early Church Discourse: Double Trouble Embodied, London: Routledge, 2018; cf Pauline Allen, “Changes in Approaching Patristic Texts from the Perspective of Contemporary Catholic Teaching”, in Johan Leemans, Brian J. Matz, and Johan Verstraeten eds., Reading Patristic Texts on Social Ethics: Issues and Challenges for Twenty-First Century Christian Thought, Washington: Catholic University Press of America, 2011, 30–42, especially 38–40. 29 Allan D. Fitzgerald, “Penance”, in Susan Ashbrook Harvey and David G. Hunter eds., The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Ethics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008, 786–807. 30 E.g. Franz van de Paverd, “Disciplinarian Procedures in the Early Church”, pp. 267–292; Maurice Bévenot, “The Sacrament of Penance and Cyprian’s De lapsis”, pp.  293–331, both collected in Everett Ferguson ed., Christian Life: Ethics, Morality and Discipline in the Early Church, New York: Garland, 1993. 31 Ronald H. Bainton, “The Early Church and War”, in Everett Ferguson ed., Christian Life: Ethics, Morality and Discipline in the Early Church, New York: Garland, 1993, pp. 193–216; Edward A. Ryan, “The Rejection of Military Service by the Early Christians”, in Everett Ferguson ed., Christian Life: Ethics, Morality and Discipline in the Early Church, New York: Garland, 1993, pp. 217–232. 32 E.g. Richard Shelly Hartigan, “Saint Augustine on War and Killing: The Problem of the Innocent”, Journal of the History of Ideas 27 (1966), 195–204; Robert Dodaro, Christ and the Just Society in the Thought of Augustine, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. 33 Peter Lee, “Selective Memory: Augustine and Contemporary Just War Discourse”, Scottish Journal of Theology 65 (2012), 309–322; Eric Gregory, “What Do We Want from the Just War Tradition? New Challenges of Surveillance and the Security State”, Studies in Christian Ethics 27 (2014), 50–62. 34 Eric Osborn, “Clement of Alexandria: A Review of Research 1958–82”, The Second Century: A Journal of Early Christian Studies 3 (1983), 219–244; James Wetzel, Augustine and the Limits of Virtue, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992; Simon Harrison, Augustine’s Way Into the Will: The Philosophical and Theological Significance of De libero arbitrio, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006; Gerald Bonner, Freedom and Necessity: St. Augustine’s Teaching on Divine Power and Human Freedom, Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 2007; Corbin, La grâce de la liberté: Augustin et Anselme, Paris: Cerf, 2012. 35 R. Harrisville, “Pistis Christou: Witness of the Fathers”, Novum Testamentum 36 (1994), 233–241; Mark Elliott, “Pistis Christou in the Church Fathers and Beyond”, in Michael F. Bird and Preston M. Sprinkle eds., The Faith of Jesus Christ, Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2010, pp. 277–290. 36 Julia Fleming, “The Helpful Lie: The Moral Reasoning of Augustine and John Cassian”, PhD Thesis, Catholic University of America, 1993; L. Michael White, “Moral Pathology: Passions, Progress, and Protreptic in Clement of Alexandria”, in John T. Fitzgerald ed., The Passions and Moral Progress in Graeco-Roman Thought, New York: Routledge, 2008, pp. 284–321; Margaret Atkins, “ ‘Heal My Soul’: The Significance of an Augustinian Image”, Studies in Christian Ethics 23 (2010), 349–364; Peter Martens, Origen and Scripture: The Contours of the Exegetical Life, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012; J. Warren Smith, Christian Grace and Pagan Virtue, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013; Jennifer Strawbridge, The Pauline Effect: The Use of the Pauline Epistles by Early Christian Writers, Berlin: De Gruyter, 2015. Eerdmans’ ‘Church’s Bible’ sourcebooks of patristic commentaries on biblical texts offer a useful resource for those investigating connections between theology and ethics: notably Judith L. Kovacs, 1 Corinthians (2005); D. H. Williams, Matthew (2018). 37 Perry T. Hamalis and Aristotle Papanikolaou, “Towards a Godly Mode of Being: Virtue as Embodied Deification”, Studies in Christian Ethics 26 (2013), 271–280; Paul M. Blowers, “Maximus the Confessor’s Virtue Ethics”, Studies in Christian Ethics 26 (2013), 333–350. Against virtue ethics as a useful tool cf. Nicholas Peter Harvey, “Christian Morality?” Scottish Journal of Theology 52 (1999), 106–115; Cadenhead, “Corporeality and Askesis”, 281–299. 38 Grace Natoli, “Augustinian Moral Consciousness and the Businessman”, Journal of Business Ethics 78 (2008), 97–107; Adrian Walsh, “The Morality of the Market and the Medieval Schoolmen”, Politics, Philosophy and Economics 3 (2004), 241–259; Yazdani, “Toward an Ethical Theory of Organizing”, Journal of Business Ethics 127 (2015), 399–417. 39 Daniel K. Finn, Christian Economic Ethics: History and Implications, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2013. 40 John Chryssavgis and Bruce V. Foltz eds., Towards an Ecology of Transfiguration: Orthodox Christian Perspectives on the Environment, Nature and Creation, New York: Fordham University Press, 2013; Kenneth A. Reynhout, “Human Evolution and the Nature of Morality”, Theology Today 72 (2015), 135–140. 41 Nico Koopman, “The Dis-(otherly)abled and Public Morality”, Scriptura 82 (2003), 72–81. 91

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42 E.g. Fleming, “The Helpful Lie”; James Cook, “Preaching and Christianization: Reading the Sermons of John Chrysostom”, D.Phil. Thesis, University of Oxford, 2016; Aaron Kilbourn, “Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of Lyons, and Cyprian of Carthage on Suffering”, PhD thesis, Liberty University, 2017. 43 Surveyed by Hubertus R. Drobner, “Christian Philosophy”, in Susan Ashbrook Harvey and David G. Hunter eds., The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Ethics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008, pp. 672–690; Mark Edwards, ‘Early Christianity and Philosophy’, in Jeffrey Bingham ed., The Routledge Companion to Early Christian Studies, London: Routledge, 2010, pp. 38–50; cf. John Whittaker, Studies in Platonism and Patristic Thought, London: Variorum Reprints, 1984; Jean Pépin, De la Philosophie ancienne à la théologie patristique, London: Variorum Reprints, 1986; J. C. M. van Winden, J. den Boer, and David Runia eds., Arché: A Collection of Patristic Studies, New York: Brill, 1997; Tuomas Rasimus, Troels Engberg-Pedersen, and Ismmo Dunderberg eds., Stoicism in Early Christianity, Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010; Runar M. Thorsteinsson, Roman Christianity and Roman Stoicism: A Comparative Study, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. 44 P. Hadot, Excercices spirituels et philosophie antique, 2nd ed., Paris: Études augustiniennes, 1987; David Sedley, “Philosophical Allegiance in the Graeco-Roman World”, in Miriam Griffin and Jonathan Barnes eds., Philosophia Togata, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989, pp. 97–119; Richard Shusterman, “Philosophy as a Way of Life: As Textual and More Than Textual Practice”, in Michael Chase, Stephen R. L. Clark, and Michael McGhee eds: Philosophy as a Way of Life: Ancients and Moderns: Essays in Honour of Pierre Hadot, Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013, pp. 40–56; Constantinos Macris, “Charismatic Authority, Spiritual Guidance, and Way of life in the Pythagorean Tradition”, in Michael Chase, Stephen R. L. Clark, and Michael McGhee eds.: Philosophy as a Way of Life: Ancients and Moderns: Essays in Honour of Pierre Hadot, Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013, pp. 57–83. 45 E.g. Almut-Barbara Renger and Alexandra Stellmacher eds., Übungswissen in Religion und Philosophe: Produktion, Weitergabe, Wandel, Berlin: W. Hopf Verlag, 2018. 46 Earlier, n. 34. 47 Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982; Virginia Held, The Ethics of Care: Personal, Political and Global, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. 48 As well, of course, as sometimes being damaged by them. 49 Ruth Benedict, Patterns of Culture, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1934; Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo, London: Routledge, 1966 (both influenced by Durkheim); Abraham Edel and May Edel, Abthropology and Ethics: The Quest for Moral Understanding, Springfield: Charles C. Thomas, 1959. 50 See especially Signe Howell ed., The Ethnography of Moralities, London: Routledge, 1997; Rebecca Langlands, “Roman Exempla and Situation Ethics: Valerius Maximus and Cicero De officiis”, Journal of Roman Studies 101 (2011), 100–122. 51 Though micro-societies within a society as large and complex as the Roman empire may adapt certain ideas and practices to their own uses: cf. Teresa Morgan, Roman Faith and Christian Faith, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015, on early Christian treatments of trust. 52 Morgan, Popular Morality, ch. 11. 53 Richmond Lattimore, Themes in Greek and Latin Epitaphs, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1942. 54 Elizabeth Forbis, Municipal Virtues in the Roman Empire, Stuttgart: Teubner, 1996; cf. Robert A. Kaster, Emotion, Restraint and Community in Ancient Rome, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. 55 E.g. Angelos Chaniotis, “Public Subscriptions and Loans as Social Capital in the Hellenistic City: Reciprocity, Performance, Commemoration”, in Paraskevi Martzavou and Nikolaos Papazarkadas eds., Epigraphical Approaches to the Post-classical Polis: Fourth Century BC to Second Century AD, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 89–106; Aneurin Ellis-Evans, “The Ideology of Public Inscriptions”, in Paraskevi Martzavou and Nikolaos Papazarkadas eds., Epigraphical Approaches to the Post-classical Polis: Fourth Century BC to Second Century AD, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 107–122; B. D. Gray, “Philosophy of Education and the Later Hellenistic Polis”, in Paraskevi Martzavou and Nikolaos Papazarkadas eds., Epigraphical Approaches to the Post-classical Polis: Fourth Century BC to Second Century AD, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, pp.  233–254; see also Morgan, Popular Morality, pp. 301–304. 56 Cf. Ap. 2.181–3: piety is the motivation of all Jewish activities; 2.293–4: piety is the most beautiful thing and obedience to the law the greatest justice. At 2.192, Jews worship God by means of virtue. At 2.145–146, the Jewish law is designed to promote piety, along with a number of other virtues, to the world at large. 92

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5 7 Cf. 1.162 (Pythagoras exceeds other philosophers for his wisdom and piety). 58 E.g. Ephraim E. Urbach’s survey of rabbinic thought, The Sages, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987, has no chapter on ethics, thought it discusses (ch. 15) ethical themes including justice, mercy, inclinations to good and evil, and righteous and wicked people. 59 Louis Newman, Past Imperatives: Studies in the History and Theory of Jewish Ethics, Albany: State University of New York, 1998, pp. 4–5. 60 Past Imperatives, especially chs. 1, 3; cf, Jonathan Wyn Schofer, The Making of a Sage: A Study in Rabbinic Ethics, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2005; Lon L. Fuller, The Morality of Law, rev. edn, New Delhi: Universal Law, 2006; Jonathan Wyn Schofer, Confronting Vulnerability: The Body and the Divine in Rabbinic Ethics, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2010. 61 Tzvi Novick, What Is Good, and What God Demands: Normative Studies in Tannaitic Literature, Leiden: Brill, 2010, chs. 5–6. 62 Novick, What Is Good, ch. 8; cf. Amram Tropper, Wisdom, Politics and Historiography: Tractate Avot in the Context of the Graeco-Roman Near East, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004, discussing the rabbinic wisdom treatise Tractate Avot in its sociopolitical and ethical contexts. 63 Though see e.g. Jacques Liébaert, Les enseignements moraux des pères apostoliques, Gembloux: J. Duculot, 1970, and (implicitly, though it is a sourcebook rather than a monograph) Abraham J. Malherbe, Moral Exhortation: A Graeco-Roman Sourcebook, Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1986. 64 Many studies now touch on ethical aspects of art and architecture, though few make it their main focus: e.g. Glanville Downey, “Ethical Themes in the Antioch Mosaics”, Church History 10.4 (1941), 367–376; Kathryn A. Smith, “Inventing Marital Chastity: The Iconography of Susanna and the Elders in Early Christian Art”, Oxford Art Journal 16 (1993), 3–24; Ellen Swift and Anne Alwis, “The Role of Late Antique Art in Early Christian Worship”, Papers of the British School at Rome 78 (2010), 193–217, 352–354; Troels Kristensen, Making and Breaking the Gods: Christian Responses to Pagan Sculpture in Late Antiquity, Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2013; Robin M. Jensen, “Compiling Narratives: The Visual Strategies of Early Christian Visual Art”, Journal of Early Christian Studies 23 (2015), 1–26. 65 Making the same point about ancient philosophers, see e.g. Miriam T. Griffin, Seneca: A Philosopher in Politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976; Teresa Morgan, “Doxa, Praxis and Graeco-Roman Religious Thinking”, in J. Carleton-Paget, S. Gathercole, and J. Lieu eds., Christianity in the Second Century: Themes and Developments, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017, pp. 200–213.

Further Reading Cardman, Francine (2008), “Early Christian Ethics”, in Susan Ashbrook Harvey and David G. Hunter (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 932–956. Ferguson, Everett (ed.). (1993), Christian Life: Ethics, Morality, and Discipline in the Early Church, New York: Garland. Leemans, John, B. Matz and J. Verstraeten (eds.). (2011), Reading Patristic Texts on Social Ethics, Washington, DC: Catholic University Press of America. Liébaert, Jacques (1970), Les enseignements moraux des pères apostoliques, Gembloux: J Duculot. Luthardt, Christoph Ernst (1889), History of Christian Ethics: Vol 1 History of Christian Ethics Before the Reformation, Edinburgh: T&T Clark. Osborn, Eric (1976), Ethical Patterns in Early Christian Thought, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Troeltsch, Ernst (1931), The Social Teaching of the Christian Churches, London: Allen and Unwin.

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8 Logic and religious language Anna Zhyrkova

Introduction It seems fair to assert that in our “Plantinga” and “post-Plantinga” era, working on religious language has become less problematic for scholars, as they no longer find themselves required to defend its very meaningfulness. It was not so long ago that every sentence associated with such language stood accused of “cognitively meaninglessness,” as lacking verifiable criteria of meaning. Such charges were disputed by scholars like R.M. Hare (1952), Ian T. Ramsey (1975) and many others. Yet, thanks to Plantinga’s theory of warrant (1984, 2000, 2015), “simplistic verificationism” has given way to more subtle approaches to linguistic expressions of religious belief. He showed that claims expressing such beliefs are no less products of the proper functioning of the human cognitive faculties than are claims about tomorrow’s weather. Relieved from the need for constant apology, one can at last inquire into logical issues pertaining to such language. The question of the relationship between logic and religious language can be translated into two separate topics. The first concerns the inner logic of religious language, its essential characteristics, rules etc. Accordingly, the religious language of early Christian philosophers can be investigated in regard to the meaning of sentences and utterances referring to a religious subject-matter, and above all to God. Thus, the logic in question is that of language used to describe what lies beyond the sensible realm: in other words, that which, by its very essence, is hard, if not impossible, to describe and express. The point of contention in this case is the possibility of referencing something that, according to the beliefs expressed through religious statements, does not belong to the sensible realm and transgresses the human capacity for understanding and expression. The second is about what kinds of logic have been applied within theological discourse as tools enabling the construction of arguments and explanations in relation to the questions raised by and within theology, and why. In the present study, I shall discuss both topics, though concentrating mainly on the first, as less studied in regard to Patristics.

The inner logic of religious language (a)  The Cappadocian Account Religious language, just like any language, necessarily has its own inner logic, otherwise it would not perform its main function, which is communication, be it internal (teaching and 94

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transmitting doctrine, etc.) or external to religious communities (teaching about accepted beliefs, activities aiming at conversion, interreligious dialogue etc.). However, because religious language differs from conventional language on account of its very subject, its inner logic already became an important issue in early Christian theological discourse. Patristic thinkers, although they did not entitle their deliberations “the logic of religious language,” in fact addressed the issue quite directly and in depth. In order to exclude possible misrepresentations of their thought, their account will be analyzed here in a somewhat hermeneutical fashion: i.e. within the framework of philosophy characteristic for the era, without referring to theories and conceptions formulated significantly later on, such as reductionism, fictionalism etc. From almost the very beginning of the formation of theological discourse, i.e. since the second century, Christian apologists and writers, in accordance with established philosophical and theological tradition in Judaistic thought, had recognized that names used in reference to God do not reveal who He really is. Names, being parts/elements of human language, were coined to refer to created objects, and therefore could not possibly provide information about the Divine essence of their Creator. Thus, names used in reference to God do not signify His very essence, but rather His attributes/characteristics as revealed through His actions towards humans and the created realm.1 However, the question of the very possibility, rules and criteria of predication of an object that not only is unknown, but also could not possibly be cognized and apprehended by the human mind, did not arise until the Eunomian controversy. Eunomius’ questionable Trinitarian claims of Arian provenance were supported by, among other arguments, his understanding of human language and the nature of a word’s reference. He rejected the opinion that names in general, and names of God such as, in particular, the name “Unbegotten,” evince human rational activity rather than reality (cf. Demetracopoulos 2007). Were that so, what is said in accordance with thought (kat’ epinoian) would not then be connected with its object, would exist as a name only and would cease to exist with the dissolving sound of the uttered words (Apology 8.1–5). Thus, Eunomius claims that words are adjusted to the nature of things (Apology 18.7–9). Accordingly, the essence of the apprehended thing (be it God) does not differ from that which signifies it. In consequence, if an appellation is properly asserted of a substance, then the name that signifies it has the same particular real existence (Apology 12.7–1). Eunomius gives a theological justification for this position: he states that it is by the Providence of God that words are bestowed upon their subjects, while the first created man was given the knowledge of the nature of created things as well as knowledge of their proper names (Apology for the Apology. II.ii.J 282, J 346.20–7.1, II.vi.J 86.5–7, II.i.03.1–6).2 Words of human language, therefore, do not express results of our thought and cognitive activities, but seem to reveal conceptions (ennoiai) of the subjects named by those words (Apology 18.4–7; Apol.Apol. ΙΙ.v.J 368.6–18, ΙΙΙ. J ii 168.11–12). The notion of ennoia is of special import here, since Eunomius also seems to be claiming that human beings are endowed with a natural conception (fusikē ennoia) of God, that He is one, as well as unbegotten (Apology 7.1–3). The notions of ennoia or fusikē ennoia are well known for their Stoic origin, but had been adopted since Antiochus of Ascalon by the Medioplatonists, and had then entered Neoplatonic discourse. Given the extreme insufficiency of evidence, it is very hard to say whether Eunomius would have been aware of the subtle differences in how different philosophical traditions understood that conception. Stripped of those differences, in the most general way, the notion of ennoia implies that the human intellect possesses, as impressed on it, conceptions of things and their nature. Eunomius believed that those conceptions had been imposed by God. Thus, since the human intellect had been given the knowledge and proper appellations of both God and created things by God Himself, one could safely, justifiably call God by the name “Unbegotten.” 95

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Even acknowledging attempts to point to particular philosophical sources of Eunomius’ account, such as the Neoplatonic commentary on Plato’s Cratylus, his approach stands out as rather eclectic. He gathered elements and philosophical vocabulary from various philosophical traditions, but gave these a theological justification. His account was not a theory, but rather a theology of language. And as theology of language, it could be seen as a further interpretation and development of the Jewish tradition, accepted within the Church, regarding the Divine language of creation, as well as primordial language construed as manifesting the sacred and as revealing truth.3 Nevertheless, while trying to show that his own argumentation was not arbitrary, Eunomius made a claim that is hard to accept. He relied on a mutilated version of what was originally a Stoic conception of reference. In Chrysippus, cognition kat’ epinoian, i.e. “in accordance with thought,” pertains to our experience of things, rather than things themselves. Things are grasped conceptually either by way of resemblance to things presented in experience, or by enlargement thereof, or by diminution, or by composition (Fr. 88). Eunomius misses the point that human rational activity and usage of language are rooted in experience and perception of reality. For him, what is conceptual is a human invention that has little basis in reality and no existence of its own (cf. Vaggione 1976: 221–223). Therefore, employing yet another Stoic conception, he states that his usage of the proper names of God does not arise from the process of human thought, but flows from the naturally given notion (ennoia) of God and His essence. And indeed, here lies the main problem of Eunomius’ theory. From the philosophical point of view, to say that one is endowed with a certain notion (either by God or by nature), e.g. an ennoia of man, means that one is able to state correctly what man is (Sextus Empiricus, Against the Mathematicians 9.8). Possessing a common or connatural notion of a given thing entails having a complete comprehension of that thing (Cicero, Academics 2.21; Tusculans Disputations 4.53).4 In other words, to state that human intellect has been endowed with the notion of God, even if this was provided by God himself, is to state that a human being knows and understands what God is in regard to His essence.5 The Cappadocian Fathers’ response to Eunomius is of special importance in the present ­context. Basil of Caesarea offered some highly coherent and philosophically well-based counterargumentation. He accepted a view, known for its Epicurean and Stoic roots, according to which human intellect is endowed with a common conception of the existence of God: namely, that God exists (to einai). However, Basil strongly denied that there is any kind of common or natural knowledge or understanding of the essence (to ti einai) of God (Against Eunomius 1.12).6 In his opinion, an understanding of God’s substance lies beyond absolutely all rational natures of created beings, and not only of humans. For creatures, to understand Divine substance means to realize its incomprehensibility. This, however, need not entail that one who confesses that he or she has no understanding of the Divine essence is completely ignorant of God. For a person of faith is led up to knowledge of the Divine attributes from God’s powers and actions, through what He has created and revealed. Thus, our conception of God is made up of many attributes manifested and revealed to us, although understanding of His substance as such remains unattainable. It is worth stressing, however, that according to Basil knowledge of the Divine attributes is granted first and foremost by faith, and does not come as a result of pure rational activity (Against Eunomius 1.14; Letters 234.1–3).7 While rejecting Eunomius’ views on the possession of a natural conception of God’s essence, Basil also pointed out that the assumption that human beings are endowed with a natural conception of God makes any further argumentation about his nature and features simply senseless. For, seeing that common conceptions are universal and shared by all human beings, it implies that every single one of us would have a clear and self-evident (as well as probably a very similar) 96

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understanding of the Divine essence and its attributes (Against Eunomius 1.5).8 Going through many other inconsistencies and errors in Eunomius’ argumentation that are of less importance for our study, Basil comes to criticize his understanding of epinoia. In Basil’s opinion, Eunomius, without explaining what this term actually means, refers it only to a construction of a mental image picturing things that have no existence in reality. In doing so, Eunomius in fact omits the primary and common usage of epinoia. In the latter, things seen as simple in the context of general apprehension by the intellect and of sense perception, when considered by epinoia, are revealed to be complex. Basil proceeds by explaining the meaning of epinoia in accordance with its Stoic/Chrysippian account.9 Namely, ἐπίνοια is a name given to a more detailed and precise inner consideration of what has already been known intellectually, which comes after the initial conception (noēma) emerging from sensation. According to Basil, all that is said is considered according to epinoia and, therefore, remains as thoughts in the soul of the one who apprehends it rather than dissolving together with the sounds produced by the tongue (Against Eunomius I.6).10 In other words, epinoia is an intellectual activity that engages with the common conceptions of existing things, both those possessed naturally and those received via perception, through which intellectual analysis and/or understanding of different aspects of the thing under consideration is achieved. In line with this view of the role of epinoia in cognition, Basil accepts that names of things are posterior to things themselves: names, to be sure, do follow the natures of things, and not otherwise (Against Eunomius 2.4).11 However, meaningful utterances are vehicles of human conceptions, through which we can communicate to one another our thoughts and the counsel of our hearts (Homily on the words: ‘Give heed to thyself’ 23). That is to say, words convey the meaning received through acts of reflecting on perceived and cognized content. The words reflect and refer to the results of our intellectual acts, and not the things directly. The other thing of the utmost importance is that, in Basil’s opinion, names and appellations neither refer to things directly, nor signify things’ substances in the sense of their material substrates. Instead, he claims that appellations (prosēgoriai) and names signify the properties (idiotētes) that characterize particulars. It also seems that any conception of a certain thing that has been impressed on us will pertain to those properties that have been observed in regard to that particular thing (Against Eunomius 2.4). Here exactly lies the other error of Eunomius: not only does he assume that what is said about God according to epinoia is completely different from, and even opposite to, what He really is, but he also postulates that what, in his opinion, is rightfully attributed to God is said in regard to his substance (Against Eunomius 1.7–1.8). Yet the actual situation when it comes to speaking about such an object as God is not different from the common usage of human language. Firstly, names and appellations are referred to God as expressive of how we conceptualize Him and, as such, are themselves “fruits of conceptualization.” Secondly, when Jesus Christ speaks about himself and employs names like “light,” “bread,” “door” etc., he points to different aspects of His divinity. All those names are different in their meaning, but he himself is not a polyonym. He is one, as subject of predication and appellation, and as a substance. When those appellations refer to him, they express various manifestations of His benefactory engagement with created reality, of the sort conceptualized in thought-processes antecedent to any verbalization. It is as such that they testify, “according to truth,” to what belongs to God (Against Eunomius 1.7).12 Basil was well aware of the limitations of theological expressions, seeing them as a part of human speech that he found inferior to human thought, and poorly suited to properly expressing the fruits of our comprehension (Letters 7.1.–9). Still, on his understanding, theological language and talk of God (whose nature was beyond the understanding of any created intellect) were not senseless or groundless. The fact that God, as a subject of predication, lies beyond 97

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our knowledge, does not contradict the very possibility of predicating appellations of Him, even though it is the predication of features/appellations of a subject that de facto in itself is unknown to us. For what is predicated does not refer directly to God. God reveals to humans his own characteristics and features and, when revealed, they are perceived by the human intellect. Afterwards, what is revealed is subjected to a process of analyses and comprehension. The intellect, reflecting on received perceptions, constructs a conception of God, which comprises His characteristics as discerned by and present in our thinking. Thus, appellations, which are applied to those characteristics and which we use with reference to God, express our own thoughts and reflections concerning God. The reference to an object absolutely transcending the intellectual capacities of any created being is not direct. Nevertheless, it is not that our idea of God lacks genuine substantiation or is untrue: God Himself is the guarantor of the truthfulness of our appellations, but this is possible only on condition that we possess true faith. That faith is, in this case, the primary principle, and a necessary requirement for cognizing (and, subsequently, for proper deliberation about) God and Divine matters. Faith can be viewed in philosophical terms as a fundamental openness to revelation, and shows our comprehension of how to interpret what we learn from our experience and from sacred texts. Basil’s brother, faithful follower and advocate, Gregory of Nyssa, did not introduce many essentially new ideas regarding the issue of how we can speak about God. His work on this subject can rather be viewed as rephrasing Basil’s analyses in appealing formulations and drawing practical conclusions from the latter’s stance. Gregory’s account has come to be sanctioned by theological tradition, attracting the attention of many scholars, who frequently study Gregory and his philosophical sources while disregarding his unambiguously articulated indebtedness to Basil.13 Here, therefore, we can focus exclusively on those elements in Gregory’s approach to speaking about God that are indeed innovative and consequential. In Gregory’s opinion, comprehension as such, as well as the ability to name cognized objects, is implemented in humans by God. That does not mean, however, that God imposed on us language in its entirety, providing each and every word for any existing thing, activity or feature. Any language is a human invention, just as any given word or name within that language is a product of human intellectual activity. Understandable names are produced with reference to human conceptions of already existing entities (Against Eunomius II.252.1–3, 37.11–38.1, 395.8–6.10, 401–402, 164.6–6.5). Language and words are, obviously, needed for human beings to communicate with each other, but words are also required to preserve unconfused our human memories of cognized things, which are not constantly present to the intellect. For things are distinguished in our thought through their signification by names (II.282. 391–393). Using rather Porphyrian logical terminology, Gregory states that things are named through significant utterances in accordance with the specific customs of each nation (II.270.8–271.1). For the human intellect, the Divine activities through which God reveals and manifests Himself are real existing things, experienced through and within the sensible realm. Therefore, their appellations, just as all other names of regular objects, are significant utterances produced and invented by humans. Not only are the appellations we use in relation to God of human origin, but God himself also communicates with us in our own terms (II.238). Given the nature of such appellations, it should not be expected that they will perfectly and completely match a proper description of the Divinity, which is unexplored, inexpressible and beyond the reach of human reasoning. Thus, Gregory clearly envisioned the possibility of grave errors ensuing from speculations about God based on human conceptions and argumentations (II.97). On the other hand, he was fairly positive as regards the human ability to use language. In his opinion, in everyday life only people whose brain is affected by drunkenness or inflammation completely misuse names and call a dog by the appellation “human” (II.319.3–8). Thus, even with all the 98

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limitations of our human cognitive capacities and language, Gregory still found discourse on God to be possible and most profitable, albeit wanting. Through speculation as, in part, the fruit of intellectual reflection on the perceivable actions of God, one comes to understand precisely the truth that the Divine existence and essence is beyond any knowledge and comprehension. But one can also come to understand what cannot be ascribed to God, and what is proper and reverent to attribute to him (II.136.7–10; 138–140; 157.4–158.1). To be sure, it must be accepted that Divinity unconditionally exceeds what names can signify and convey. However, “to be spoken of ” is different from “to be.” God is who he is in regard to his substance and nature, but we can still speak of him in a limited manner. The possible pitfalls of speaking about God can and must be avoided by refraining from inquiry into his essence and existence, as what is unachievable, incomprehensible and inexpressible in principle (II.98; 161.1–5; III.1.105.1–3). The Divinity is to be addressed by the names we give to the Divine activities revealed and manifested to human beings (II. 304.5–8).14 Furthermore, every name said of the Divine nature must be understood as if it were accompanied by the verb “is” (to esti): e.g. “God is just” or “Divine nature is imperishable,” etc., even if in practice it is omitted, as in the case of invocations of His titles. Otherwise, a name for Him would refer to nothing. This claim of Gregory entails that each name of God amounts to a categorical proposition of classical logic, in which “God”/“Divine nature” serves as the subject, accompanied by the copula “is.” The latter connects the subject with a predicate such as “just,” “imperishable” etc. However, categorical propositions can be used in any kind of predication, including predication in essence – the one Gregory wants to avoid. Gregory, therefore, suggests that propositions of the form “A is x” do not ascribe feature x directly to A, but are verbal reports drawing their meaning from what is perceived about A. “Is” does not make a predicate a part of the very “account of being” (tou einai logos). Accordingly, what is predicated of God is no more than an extrinsic attribute (to proson). We only apprehend and predicate attributes of his nature, which are not equivalent to the nature as such (III.5.57–59). Gregory’s arguments for non-essential predication in the case of the Divine can be treated as conclusive only if completed by Basil’s epistemological premises, which, in my opinion, Gregory appears to assume.15 Firstly, names applied to God correspond to our own reflection on activities through which He reveals himself, and not directly to God. A name expresses the fruit of our intellect’s analyses of our perception of Divine activities. It refers to what can be deduced from this activity as a basis for attributing it to God as one of his features. Secondly, the source and justification for such an attribution is the Divine revelatory activity, not his very essence and existence, which are in principle incomprehensible.16 It is that revelation that guarantees that our nonessential predication pertains, in fact, to God. Basil’s and Gregory’s complementary arguments substantiate the possibility of speaking about the Divine nature, as well as that of theological speculative discourse generally. However, this a conditional possibility: one needs to believe that God does exist and that He is not the ultimate deceiver, who would equip us with malfunctioning cognitive and communicative tools and lie to us about Himself, to boot.

(b)  The Christocentric logic of religious language The problem of the inner logic of religious language can also be approached from a different angle: the veracity of language within theological discourse can be substantiated by John Damascene’s Christocentric interpretation of epistemology and language. John’s work the Fount of Knowledge contains positive systematical expositions of theological doctrine, preceded by (1) an outline of Neoplatonic logic, which serves as a tool for the 99

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explication of theological truths, and (2) a critical compendium of false doctrines. He delineates there some epistemological premises of theological discourse, and describes what knowledge, truth and falsity are. He relies on a quite traditional Greek philosophical understanding of true and false knowledge. “Knowledge” means, strictly speaking, the true knowledge of beings, as opposed to the false knowledge of non-being which, as such, is rather a lack of knowledge. For the false is nothing else but that which is not or does not exist. On the other hand, the truth itself is defined not philosophically but theologically: it is Christ, who is hypostasized wisdom and truth, while human intellect and soul have only the capacity for receiving cognition and knowledge (Dial. 1.10–25, cf. Plato Soph. 260c1–4). In this way, Christ is the truth, its source and the teacher of truth. It seems possible to say that John clearly expresses one of the fundamental rules of speculative theological discourse: while the understanding of knowledge as such applied in it is identical with the understanding of knowledge in philosophy, which is a field of human rational activity, what is truth is ultimately established in and through relation to revelation. In other words, the criterion of truth within theological discourse is nothing else but content revealed in, through and by Christ. The Damascene’s account of the comprehensibility and knowledge of God, as well as of the issue of naming and speaking of God, presents a synthetic account of Basil and Gregory, with recognition given to apophaticism as developed by Pseudo-Dionysius. However, John also put forward a particular teaching that might seem unrelated to the issue of religious language, but which in fact allows us to elucidate it from a significantly different angle. The teaching in question is his theology of Icons, which he developed as a result of his struggle with Iconoclasm. John put his finger on the main problem concerning the depiction of the Deity, which is the very impossibility of representing the true God, who is in principle invisible, incorporeal, uncircumscribed and unportrayable (Exposition of the Faith 89.24–25). To be sure, John accepted arguments in defence of icons that were produced within Church tradition, among which was the principle that as an assertion of the doctrine of incarnation, Christ can and ought to be depicted as human (Trullan Council in 692, Canon 82). He found this principle reasonable but still insufficient to justify making images of the true God, who, as the source of all created beings, is beyond any substantial being, incomprehensible, formless and also one Divine Godhead in the three hypostases of Father, Son and Holy Ghost (Apol. 1.4 =3.6, 1.8, 2.5 =3.2, 2.7 =3.4, 3.24). Since Christ was not merely a man, the argument only covered depictions of the human nature of the Incarnate Logos. In John, the possibility of depicting the Deity is justified because the Divine nature was united with a complete human nature for all eternity in a preexistent hypostasis of the Incarnated Word of God. The hypostasis of God remains the principle of existence for both. The natures do not subsist independently, but as hypostatic components of the one hypostasis of the Son of God. Consequently, the preexistent hypostasis of God the Word constitutes the existential principle of its essential components (Exposition 53.7–17, 71.18–28).17 The Son of God not only was a human, but remains truly God and truly human. He can be depicted, above all, because He truly remains human, with human flesh, while simultaneously truly being God. Since Christ’s Divine nature is inseparable from his humanity, being united with it in the one hypostasis of God the Word, a depiction that begins with the humanity of Christ, will inevitably reveal His Divinity, for an image of the Incarnated Word that has become visible is also an image of the invisible God (Apology 1.4 =3.6, 1.16, 3.24, 26).18 The incarnate Son of God is the first, natural (fysike eikōn) and unchangeable image of the invisible God the Father, revealing the Father in Himself. He conveys in Himself the whole Father, being equal to Him in everything, and differing only in His being begotten by His Father, His Begetter (Apology 1.9, 3.18; also Exp. 13). An image of Christ, therefore, is not just an image of His humanity: on the one hand, 100

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it is an image of the entire hypostasis of the Incarnated Word, while on the other, it represents the first, natural and consubstantial image of the Godhead. We can draw a parallel with this argument by asserting that Divinity, which, as far as its very existence and essence is concerned, lies absolutely beyond our human capacities of perception and understanding, can nevertheless be spoken of, thanks to Incarnation. The unattainable Divine essence became, for the sake of our salvation, visible and describable in our language. The incarnate Son of God can be referred to using the names furnished by human language, but He is the first and true image of the invisible God the Father, and is not different or unequal to the persons of Father and Holy Spirit in regard to the Divine essence. Predicates and names relating to Him are not appellations pertinent only to his humanity. In speaking about His human hypostasis, we are speaking about one and the same Divine hypostasis of God the Word. In other words, Incarnation provides us with theological justification for speculative discourse, in which Christ as the Incarnated Word is the source of the content of Revelation, and also the criterion of correct denomination. This justification for speaking about God in positive terms can hardly be recognized as appropriate for a philosophically grounded logic. Like the justification offered by the Cappadocians, it is ultimately rooted in faith. While it relies on some philosophical prerequisites, including a traditional definition of truth and a logical description of language as the truth bearer, the ultimate endorsement for the possibility of language referring to the transcendent God stems from the Incarnation of God the Logos. Thus, as the Icons give a true depiction of God, and as letters of the Scripture depict words (Apology 3.23=1.13), so these words can be viewed, in light of John’s theology, as a true account of the Incarnate God. The language of theology is truthful thanks to the Incarnation that is seen, through faith, as a fact. In this specific way, theological language meets the criteria for meaningful speech. Furthermore, as someone who rejects religious images also thereby denies the truth of Incarnation and refuses Christ and his salutary grace, so, according to the principles of John’s theology, someone who rejects positive language used about God would be rejecting the core doctrines of Christianity. For in Christianity, we see the Lord’s glory face-to-face. If we view the positive statements of speculative theology as essentially meaningless, we should probably, as John advises the iconoclasts, go back to keeping the Sabbath and practising circumcision (Apology 1.16.84–91, 1.21.76–93).

Logic within theological discourse The final topic of our investigation concerns the logic applied in Christian theological discourse. First of all, there is a need to point out that theology, just like any other discipline in the field of human activities in which any kind of reasoning and argumentation concerning certain objective structures takes place, is a discipline in which logic, semantics and methodology are applied (Bochenski 1965: 5–9). Secondly, there are several studies showing that from the earliest stages of the formation of the doctrine, Christian writers (1) possessed knowledge of Aristotelian and Stoic syllogistics, the Porphyrian theory of imposition and predication, etc., and (2) did not shy away from employing this knowledge in their argumentation, even if they theoretically reprimanded any use of the fruits of pagan philosophical thought. Whilst one might allege, especially on the basis of earlier Patristic texts, that elements drawn from disparate logical and philosophical systems were employed by their authors in a rather inconsistent way, during the theological debates of the fifth and sixth centuries a consistent attitude towards logic as applied in theology came to be worked out. By the fifth century, Porphyry’s logical interpretation of the Aristotelian categorical system, presented in the Isagoge and the commentary On Aristotle’s Categories, had become extremely 101

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popular and widely known, offering intellectuals of the era a clear and concise work of reference. Neoplatonic logic had already been introduced into theological discourse by Cappadocians as a conceptual tool in Trinitarian questions: i.e. they are credited with having established the famous distinction between, on the one hand, nature and substance, described in terms of what is common and universal, and, on the other, hypostasis and person, characterized as what is proper and particular.19 Yet it seems that they only adopted in somewhat different terms elements of the well-known Neoplatonic account of universals and Porphyry’s logical interpretation of Aristotle’s categorical doctrine of substance. In Neoplatonism, universals such as genera and species were elucidated as terms denoting what is common to the particulars of which they are predicated (Ammonius, Commentary on the Categories, 49.5–11; Simplicius, On the Categories, 53.6–9, 5.32–56.4). In Porphyry, in turn, a substance of a certain kind is predicated as a universal of a particular or individual (Poprhyry, On the Categories, 71–74).20 Besides, especially in Gregory of Nyssa, the manner in which he approaches issues such as substance, nature, hypostasis etc. resembles the methodological stance adopted by Porphyry in the Isagoge and commentary on Categories regarding primary and secondary substance ([Basil], Letter 38; Gregory, To Ablabius and To the Greeks). Just as Porphyry did, Gregory discusses the aforementioned notions in terms of predication (to legomenon, i.e. what is said). Accordingly, the term “hypostasis” is the name given to predications made in the mode of particularity, as opposed to generic predication of such terms as “substance” or “nature” (cf. Edwards 2015). Furthermore, Cyril of Alexandria incorporated into his teaching some terminological determinations of Aristotle’s Neoplatonic commentators, developed for the purposes of their logic. In his Trinitarian as well as his Christological works, Cyril uses and understands the conception of substance/nature in a manner closer to the Neoplatonists than to Aristotle. In particular, he construes “substance,” in the meaning of genus, not as something abstract, but as a real being, common to individuals of the same kind. These are “common substances,” close to Neoplatonic genera. Yet Cyril also applies the name “substance” to individuals of a species, broadly in line with the Neoplatonic definition of “primary substance.”21 During Christological debates over the doctrine proclaimed at the Chalcedon Council, according to which Christ is elucidated as “acknowledged in two natures” that “come together into one person and one hypostasis,” usage of the Neoplatonic apparatus was fairly accepted by defenders and opponents of this doctrine, as already sanctioned by the tradition and the highest ecclesiastical authorities. Pro-Chalcedonian as well as anti-Chalcedonian stances – represented, respectively, by such Neo-Chalcedonians as John Grammarian and Leontius of Byzantium on the one hand, and by no one else but the famous Neoplatonist John Philoponus on the other – relied on Porphyry’s logic to even a greater extent than their predecessors. Taking into account that the Council of Constantinople endorsed not only Chalcedonian Christological doctrine but also its Neo-Chalcedonian defence, which was to a considerable degree constructed with the assistance of the philosophical apparatus and solutions of Neoplatonic logic, it possible to say that the utilization of Neoplatonic logic within theological discourse received the highest ecclesiastical approval. Therefore, it should not be surprising that by the end of the Patristic period John Damascene had actually outlined – in his Philosophical Chapter, meant by him as an introductory chapter to his Fount of Knowledge – a traditional Neoplatonic curriculum based on Porphyry’s Isagoge and commentary on Categories. The philosophical, or rather logical, purpose of this introductory part, in John’s opinion, was to provide a needed clarification of terms and definitions, allowing us to understand arguments employed in theological issues. In other words, John presented and used Neoplatonic logical works as an instrument and a tool of theological discourse. The question that should be addressed, however, is why Neoplatonic logic was considered by Patristic authors to be so useful for Christian theology. 102

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First of all, Porphyry’s commentary on Categories and in his Isagoge offered clear and concise expositions of difficult logical issues. A philosophically less sophisticated reader could easily be convinced that they were presenting a set of self-evident claims, pertaining to both logic and ontology. The Neoplatonic tradition that Porphyry inaugurated treated Aristotle’s philosophy as such, and especially his categorical doctrine, as an introduction to more complicated philosophical issues. Thus, commentaries that served as preparatory understanding or elucidation of the most basic questions were a proper point of reference for the clarification of terminology. But perhaps more important here was that the Neoplatonists treated logic as a part of p­ hilosophy – counting it as a discipline in its own right, but also as one that could be instrumental for various different disciplines. In their opinion, it was the Aristotelian logic that could also be employed as such an instrument in philosophy and other disciplines.22 By “logical,” Neoplatonists understood investigations consisting in the analysis of categorical propositions (Ammonius, On the Categories 43.10–24, 44.11–45.22).23 Porphyry’s intention in the Isagoge was to address issues concerning the terms and conceptions that needed to be correctly understood by someone attempting a reading of Aristotle’s Categories from a logical rather than an ontological point of view. Besides, he defined the theoretical aim of the Categories as being concerned with significant expressions that signify things, not with things as such. Thus, both of his treatises, as well as other Neoplatonic commentaries, can be seen as providing an inquiry into a theory that classifies terms according to their syntactical and semantic roles in propositions within the network of colloquial language. Neoplatonism offered not a new ontology, but a logical approach, terminology and method. And precisely this logical approach was of the most value for theological discourse, as it provided a rationally substantiated and systematized mode of speaking about, and describing, things that cannot be rationally explained. The mysteries of the Holy Trinity and Incarnation cannot be ontologically explicated. There are no philosophical solutions for something that by its very nature is a mystery and a subject of faith. Doctrines proclaimed by Ecumenical Councils, for instance, do not explain the mysteries, but rather express, in appropriate formulations, truths revealed and comprehended within Church tradition. Patristic authors used the tools offered by Neoplatonism to express those truths in the most adequate and proper manner, and to further develop Christian discourse, and they did so precisely because Christian theology justified the possibility of speaking positively about the Divinity even while respecting its incomprehensibility.24

Notes 1 Aristides, Apology 2.1 Syr.; Justin, Second Apology 5.1.–2; Theophilus, To Autolycus 1.3.2–12. Cf. van den Broek 1988; Dillon 1988. See also the study of Philo’s account of naming the Divine and its connections with early Christian thought in Runia 1988. 2 See Vaggione 1976: 173–174, 227–228. 3 Rubin 1998. For scholarship on the philosophical roots of Eunomius’ conception, see Karfíková (2007: 294–299). 4 Cf. Long and Sedley 1987: 239–253. 5 It is not surprising, then, that he was accused of claiming that he knew perfectly the Divine essence; see Vaggione 1987: 167–170 on Fr. II. Vaggione’s defense of Eunomius (1976: 278) would suggest that Eunomius did not understand the philosophical vocabulary of the era, which viewed a conception as tantamount to knowledge and comprehension of its object. 6 Cf. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 10.123–24; Cicero, Nature of the Gods 1.43–49, 2.12–3; Plutarch, On Common Conceptions 1075e 2–7. 7 This is exactly the point that makes Basil’s conception essentially different from the one found in Epicurus and the Stoics, who maintained that there are imprinted conceptions and a common understanding of certain Divine attributes, while others can be discerned by the human intellect through reasoning and observation. 103

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8 Cf. Seneca, Letters to Lucilius 117.6; Plutarch, On Common Conceptions. 1060A. 9 I disagree here with Mortley 1986: 135–136, who thinks that Basil rejects Eunomius’ conception of ennoia as reductively limiting it to a narrowly philosophical meaning. Mortley’s interpretation of both Eunomius’ account and Basil’s response neglects the patent references, especially in the latter, to Stoic theory of knowledge and language. This leads Mortley to read Eunomius’ account as founded in Platonic and Neoplatonic premises, and Basil’s response as non-philosophical. 10 Cf. Chrysippus, Fr. 88, 9, 404, 501. In my opinion, Basil’s elucidation can be traced to the account of Chrysippus, but this issue calls for more in-depth study. Also, it is worth noting that John Damascene, in basically transmitting Basil’s account of epinoia, refers to it as ep-ennoia, i.e., as to something adding to an ennoia (Dial.=Dialectic 65.84–5). See also Demetracopoulos 2007: 390–391, where he argues that Basil draws on a lost logical part of Arius Didymus’ Epitome, and Demetracopoulos 1999, where he shows some parallels with Plotinus’ usage of the Stoic conception of epinoia. Also Karfíková 2007: 299–300. 11 Cf. also Meredith 2007. 12 Basil possibly alludes here to Origen’s account of the appellative functioning of names of Christ in Commentary on John, esp. I:52–53, I:136, I:200. Cf. Kuhner 2017: 196–198; on Basil in relation to Origen’s account, see also Studer 2007). I  refrain from analyzing this issue here, seeing as Origen discusses the names of Christ in purely theological terms. I also refrain from discussing positive and negative kinds of appellation here, as they are, in fact, particular cases of one and the same mechanism of predication. See Against Eunomius 1.10, 4. 13 On the question of his philosophical influences and sources, cf. Karfíková 2007: 300–305; Arabatzis 2007. See also Douglass 2005 on the role of the gap (diastema) between Creator and its creation in the comprehension and expression of the Divinity and several studies on the subject in Karfíková et al. 2007. 14 As with Basil, according to Gregory names applied to God fall under two categories: affirmative appellations and appellations in the form of negation. See Against Eunomius II.131–6, 142–146. 15 Scott, analyzing and criticizing Gregory’s account from a logical point of view, interprets it as an instance of fictionalism and reductionism, but he does not take into consideration Gregory’s epistemological premise. See Scott and Citron (2016). On the other hand, Dolidze 2007 presents a rather ontological reading of Gregory’s account of language, hardly paying attention to its logical and epistemological significance. 16 These two epistemological assumptions invalidate the criticism of Cappadocian theory in Scott 2013: 17, based on his interpretation of the language of Cappadocian “positive theology” as directly representational and naturalistic. 17 On the ontological and logical premises of the Damascene’s conception of hypostasis, and its role in his theology of Icons, see Zhyrkova 2017. 18 Noble 1987: 103. 19 Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 21. 1124.44–7; Oration 39. 345.41–4; Basil Letters. 214.4.6–15; Gregory of Nyssa Against Eunomius 205; [Basil] Letters 38.2–3, passim in To Ablabius, To the Greeks. Cf. Lienhard 2002; Meredith 1995: 44. 20 Universal and particular substance are equivalents of secondary and primary substance, respectively. See Porphyry, Commentary on the Categories 88.33–89.17, 90.5–10. 21 For more on that subject, see Zhyrkova 2016. 22 Porphyry’s Isagoge, being intended for elucidation of the five predicables, most obviously is preoccupied with kind of formal logic’s issues. See Ammonius, On the Isagoge 23.2–4; Elias, On the Isagoge. 26.36–27.1, 39.1–3. Cf. Lee 1984; Lloyd 1990. 23 Cf. Ebbesen 1990: 146; Strange 1987: 961–962. 24 The chapter presents some results of the author’s research carried out within the framework of the project “Neochalcedonian Philosophical Paradigm,” financed by Poland’s National Science Center (grant UMO-2016/22/M/HS1/00170).

Bibliography Ammonius Ammon. In Isag. In Porphyrii isagogen sive quinque voces. Busse, A. (ed.). (1891), “In Ammonius in Porphyrii isagogen sive quinque voces”, Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca 4.3, 1–128, Berlin: Reimer. 104

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Aristides of Athens Aristides, Apol. Apologia. Pouderon, B. and Pierre, M.-J. (eds.). (2003), In Aristides: Apologie, SChr 470, Paris: Cerf.

Basil of Caesarea Homi. in illud Homilia in illud: Attende tibi ipsi. Rudberg, S. Y. (ed.). (1962), In L’homélie de Basile de Césarée sur le mot ‘observe – toi toi – même, Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell. Ep. Epistulae Deferrari, R. J. and M. R. P. McGuire (eds.). (1926–1934), In Basil: Letters, LCL 190, 215, 243, 270, Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Adv.Eun. Adversus Eunomium Sesboüé, B., G.-M. de Durand and L. Doutreleau (eds.). (1982–1983), In Contre Eunome suivi de Eunome Apologie, SChr 299, 305, Paris: Cerf.

Chrysippus Fr. Fragmenta logica et physica von Arnim, J. (ed.). (1903), In Stoicorum veterum fragmenta, 2 vols., Leipzig: Teubner, 1–348.

Cicero, Marcus Tullius Tusc. Tusculan disputations: King, J. E. (ed.). (1960), London: Heinemann. Cicero, Acad. Academica: Rackham, M. A. (ed.). (1967), In De natura deorum: Academica, London: Heinemann. Cicero, Nat.D. De natura deorum: Rackham, M. A. (ed.). (1967), In De natura deorum: Academica, London: Heinemann.

Diogenes Laertius Diogenes Laert. Vitae philosophorum: Long, H. S. (ed.). (1964), In Diogenis Laertii vitae philosophorum, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Elias Elias, In Isag. In Porphyrii isagogen: Busse, A. (ed.). (1900), “In Eliae in Porphyrii isagogen et Aristotelis categorias commentaria”, Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca 18.1, 1–104, Berlin: Reimer.

Eunomius Apol.Apol. Apologia apologiae: Vaggione, R. P. (ed.). (1987), In Eunomius The Extant Works. Oxford Early Christian Texts, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 99–127. Fr. Fragmenta: Vaggione, R. P. (ed.). (1987), In Eunomius The Extant Works. Oxford Early Christian Texts, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 176–179. 105

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Gregory of Nazianzus Or.21 In laudem Athanasii (orat. 21) Migne, J.-P. (ed.). Patrologiae cursus completus (series Graeca) 35, 1081–1128, Paris: Migne. Or.39 In sancta lumina (orat. 39) Migne, J.-P. (ed.). Patrologiae cursus completus (series Graeca) 36, 336–360, Paris: Migne.

Gregory of Nyssa Ablab. Ad Ablabium quod non sint tres dei: Mueller, F. (ed.). (1958), In Gregorii Nysseni Opera, 3.1 vols., Leiden: Brill, 37–57. Graec. Ad Graecos ex communibus notionibus: Mueller, F. (ed.). (1958), In Gregorii Nysseni Opera, 3.1 vols., Leiden: Brill, 19–33. C.Eun. Contra Eunomium: Jaeger, W. (ed.). (1960), Gregorii Nysseni Opera, 1.1, 2.2: 1:3–409; 2.2:3–311 vols., Leiden: Brill.

John of Damascus Dial. Dialectica: Kotter, B. (ed.). (1969), In Die Schriften des Johannes von Damaskos, vol. 1, Patristische Texte und Studien 7, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 47–146. Exp. Expositio Fidei: Kotter, B. (ed.). (1973), In Die Schriften des Johannes von Damaskos, 3 vols., Patristische Texte und Studien 12, Berlin; New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1–239. Apol. Contra imaginum caluminatores orationes tres Kotter, B. (ed.). (1975), In Die Schriften des Johannes von Damaskos, 3 vols., Patristische Texte und Studien 17, Berlin; New York: Walter De Gruyter.

Justinus Martyr Justinus, Apol.II Apologia secunda pro Christianis ad senatum Romanum Minns, D. and P. Parvis (eds.). (2009), In Justin, Philosopher and Martyr, Apologies, Oxford Early Christian Texts, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 270–322.

Origenes Comm.Jo. Commentarii in evangelium Johannis: Blanc, C. (ed.). (1966–1992), In Origène: Commentaire sur saint Jean, SChr 120, 157, 222, 290, 385, Paris: Cerf.

Plutarchus Comm.not. De communibus notitiis adversus Stoicos: Westman, R. and M. Pohlenz (eds.). (1959), In Plutarchi moralia, 6.2 vols., Leipzig: Teubner.

Porphyry Porph. In Cat. In Aristotelis categorias expositio per interrogationem et responsionem Busse, A. (ed.). (1887), “In Porphyrii isagoge et in Aristotelis categorias commentarium”, Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca 4.1, 55–142, Berlin: Reimer. 106

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Seneca Luc. Ad Lucilium epistulae morales: Gummere, R. M. (ed.). (1917–1925), Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Sextus Empiricus Sextus Adv.Math. Adversus Mathematicos: Bury, R. G. (ed.). (2006), In Against the Physicists; Against the Ethicists, reprint ed., Cambridge, MA; London: Harvard University Press.

Simplicius Simp. In Cat. In Aristotelis categorias commentarium: Kalbfleisch, K. (ed.). (1907), “In Simplicii in Aristotelis categorias commentarium”, Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca 8, 1–438, Berlin: Reimer.

Theophilus of Antioch Theophilus, Ad Autolycum Ad Autolycum: Grant, R. M. (ed.). (1970), Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2–146.

Modern Authors Arabatzis, G. (2007), “Limites du langage, limites du monde dans le Contre Eunome II de Grégoire de Nysse”, in J. den Boeft, J. van Oort, L. Petersen, D. T. Runia, C. Scholten and J. C. M. van Winden (eds.), Gregory of Nyssa, Contra Eunomium II: An English Version with Supporting Studies: Proceedings of the 10th International Colloquium on Gregory of Nyssa (Olomouc, September 15–18, 2004). Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae, Leiden; Boston: Brill, 377–386. Bochenski, J. M. (1965), The Logic of Religion, New York: New York University Press. Demetracopoulos, J. A. (1999), “The Sources of Content and Use of epinoia in Basil of Caesarea’s Adversus Eunomium I: Stoicism and Plotinus”, Buzantina 20, 7–42. Demetracopoulos, J. A. (2007), “Glossogony or Epistemology? Eunomius of Cyzicus’ and Basil of Caesarea’s Stoic Concept of Epinoia and Its Misrepresentation by Gregory of Nyssa”, in J. den Boeft, J. van Oort, L. Petersen, D. T. Runia, C. Scholtenand and J. C. M. van Winden (eds.), Gregory of Nyssa, Contra Eunomium II: An English Version with Supporting Studies: Proceedings of the 10th International Colloquium on Gregory of Nyssa (Olomouc, September 15–18, 2004). Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae, Leiden; Boston: Brill, 387–397. Dillon, J. (1988), “The Knowledge of God in Origen”, in R. van Den Broek, T. Baardaand and J. Mansfeld (eds.), Knowledge of God in the Graeco-Roman World (Etudes Préliminaires Aux Religions Orientales Dans L’Empire Romain 112), Leiden: Brill, 219–228. Dolidze, T. (2007), “The Cognitive Function of Epinoia in CE II and its Meaning for Gregory of Nyssa’s Theory of Theological Language”, in J. den Boeft, J. van Oort, L. Petersen, D. T. Runia, C. Scholten and J. C. M. van Winden (eds.), Gregory of Nyssa, Contra Eunomium II: An English Version with Supporting Studies: Proceedings of the 10th International Colloquium on Gregory of Nyssa (Olomouc, September 15–18, 2004). Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae, Leiden; Boston: Brill, 445–459. Douglass, S. (2005), Theology of the Gap: Cappadocian Language Theory and the Trinitarian Controversy (American university studies. Series VII, Theology and Religion 235), New York: Peter Lang. Ebbesen, S. (1990), “Philoponus, ‘Alexander’ and the Origin of Medieval Logic”, in Richard Sorabi (ed.), Aristotle Transformed: The Ancient Commentators and Their Influence, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 445–461. Edwards, M. (2015), “Porphyry and Cappadocian Logic”, Greek Orthodox Theological Review 61, 61–74. Flew, A., R. M. Hare and B. Mitchell (1955), “Theology and Falsification: The University Discussion”, in A. Flew and A. C. Macintyre (eds.), New Essays in Philosophical Theology, London: SCM Press, 96–130. 107

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Hare, R. M. (1952), The Language of Morals, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Karfíková, L. (2007), “Der Ursprung der Sprache nach Eunomius und Gregor vor dem Hintergrund der Antiken Sprachtheorien”, in J. den Boeft, J. van Oort, L. Petersen, D. T. Runia, C. Scholten and J. C. M. van Winden (eds.), Gregory of Nyssa, Contra Eunomium II: An English Version with Supporting Studies: Proceedings of the 10th International Colloquium on Gregory of Nyssa (Olomouc, September 15–18, 2004). Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae, Leiden; Boston: Brill, 279–305. Karfíková, L., S. Douglass and J. Zachhuber (2007), Gregory of Nyssa, Contra Eunomium II: An English Version with Supporting Studies: Proceedings of the 10th International Colloquium on Gregory of Nyssa (Olomouc, September 15–18, 2004), Leiden: Brill. Kuhner, M. (2017), “The ‘Aspects of Christ’ (Epinoiai Christou) in Origen’s Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans”, Harvard Theologial Review 110.2, 195–216. doi:10.1017/s0017816017000049. Lee, T.-S. (1984), Die griechische Tradition der aristotelischen Syllogistik in der Spätantike: eine Untersuchung über die Kommentare zu den analytica priora von Alexander Aphrodisiensis, Ammonius und Philoponus, Hypomnemata Heft 79, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. Lienhard, J. T. (2002), “Ousia and Hypostasis: The Cappadocian Settlement and the Theology of ‘One Hypostasis’ ”, in Stephen Davies, Daniel Kendall and Gerard O’Collins (eds.), The Trinity: An International Symposium, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 99–121. doi:10.1093/0199246122.003.0005. Lloyd, A. C. (1990), The Anatomy of Neoplatonism, Oxford; New York: Clarendon Press; Oxford University Press. Long, A. A. and D. N. Sedley (1987), The Hellenistic Philosophers, 1 vol., Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press. Meredith, A. (1995), The Cappadocians, Outstanding christian thinkers, London: Chapman. Meredith, A. (2007), “The Language of God and Human Language (CE II 195–293)”, in J. den Boeft, J. van Oort, L. Petersen, D. T. Runia, C. Scholten and J. C. M. van Winden (eds.), Gregory of Nyssa, Contra Eunomium II: An English Version with Supporting Studies: Proceedings of the 10th International Colloquium on Gregory of Nyssa (Olomouc, September 15–18, 2004). Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae, Leiden; Boston: Brill, 247–278. Mortley, R. (1986), From Word to Silence 2 The Way of Negation, Christian and Greek, Theophaneia 31, Bonn: Hanstein. Noble, Thomas  F. X. (1987), “John Damascene and the History of the Iconoclastic Controversy”, in T. F. X. Noble and J. J. Contreni (eds.), Religion, Culture, and Society in the Early Middle Ages: Studies In Honor of Richard E. Sullivan, Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, Western Michigan University, 95–116. Plantinga, A. (1984), “Advice to Christian Philosophers”, Faith and Philosophy 1.3, 253–271. doi:10.5840/ faithphil19841317. Plantinga, A. (2000), Warranted Christian Belief, New York: Oxford University Press. Plantinga, A. (2015), Knowledge and Christian Belief, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. Ramsey, I. T. (1975), Religious Language: An Empirical Placing of Theological Phrases (Library of philosophy and theology), London: SCM Press. Rubin, M. (1998), “The Language of Creation or the Primordial Language: A Case of Cultural Polemics in Antiquity”, Journal of Jewish Studies 49.2, 306–333. Runia, D. T. (1988), “Naming and Knowing: Themes in Philonic Theology with Special Reference to the De Mutatione Nominum”, in R. van Den Broek, T. Baarda and J. Mansfeld (eds.), Knowledge of God in the Graeco-Roman World (Etudes Préliminaires Aux Religions Orientales Dans L’Empire Romain 112), Leiden: Brill, 69–91. Scott, M. (2013), Religious Language. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Scott, M. and Citron, G. (2016), “What is Apophaticism? Ways of Talking About An Ineffable God”, European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 8.4, 23–49. doi:10.24204/ejpr.v8i4.1716. Strange, S. K. (1987), “Plotinus, Porphyry and the Neoplatonic Interpretation of the Categories”, in H. Temporini and W. Haase (eds.), Aufstieg und Niedergang der rèomischen Welt: Geschichte und Kultur Roms im Spiegel der neueren Forschung, II. 36.2, Berlin; New York: W. de Gruyter, 955–974.

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Studer, B. (2007), “Der Theologiegeschichtliche Hintergrund der Epinoiai-Lehre Gregors von Nyssa”, in J. den Boeft, J. van Oort, L. Petersen, D. T. Runia, C. Scholten and J. C. M. van Winden (eds.), Gregory of Nyssa, Contra Eunomium II: An English Version with Supporting Studies: Proceedings of the 10th International Colloquium on Gregory of Nyssa (Olomouc, September 15–18, 2004). Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae, Leiden; Boston: Brill, 21–49. Vaggione, R. P. (1976), “Aspects of Faith in the Eunomian Controversy”, Unpublished D. Phil., University of Oxford. Vaggione, R. P. (1987), Eunomius The Extant Works, Oxford Early Christian Texts, Oxford: Oxford University Press. van den Broek, R. (1988), “Eugnostus and Aristides on the Ineffable God”, in R. van Den Broek, T. Baarda and J. Mansfeld (eds.), Knowledge of God in the Graeco-Roman World (Etudes Préliminaires Aux Religions Orientales Dans L’Empire Romain 112), Leiden: Brill, 202–218. Zhyrkova, A. (2016), “From Christ to Human Individual.” Studia Patristica 16, 25–47. Zhyrkova, A. (2017), “John of Damascus’ Philosophy of the Individual and the Theology of Icons”, in A. Kaldellis and N. Siniossoglou (eds.), The Cambridge Intellectual History of Byzantium, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 431–446. doi:10.1017/9781107300859.026.

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9 The mystical element Andrew Louth

The concept of mysticism To speak of the ‘mystical element’ is to evoke the shade of Baron von Hügel. His The Mystical Element of Religion as Studied in Saint Catherine of Genoa and Her Friends (first published 1908) was very influential (Louis Massignon claimed that he took it as a model for his own great work on the Muslim mystic and martyr, al-Hallāj (Massignon 1982: I, lx)). In his book, von Hügel introduces the ‘mystical’ element alongside two other elements: the ‘institutional’ and the ‘intellectual’ (though von Hügel only rarely identified them so concisely). In the book, he presents them as a kind of Hegelian triad. The first element is the ‘institutional’, corresponding to the child: ‘Religion is here, above all, a Fact and Thing’. The second is the ‘intellectual’, when the fact and reality of religion is questioned and argued over, corresponding to the youth: ‘Religion here becomes Thought, System, a Philosophy’. Thirdly, and finally, there comes the ‘mystical’, where religion becomes a matter of felt experience, leading to a ‘deeper personality’, which corresponds to the mature person: ‘Here religion is rather felt than seen or reasoned about, is loved and lived rather than analysed, is action and power, rather than either external fact or intellectual verification’ (Hügel 1923: 50–53). Though they are seen as a developmental triad, at any one time the three elements are present in different proportions. Nevertheless, it is not rash, I think, to see in this analysis an attempt to respond to his own times and the controversies in which he was caught up. Von Hügel was bound up with the Catholic modernist controversy (his Mystical Element was published the year after the papal decree, Lamentabile, condemning modernism), and he was in touch with the main protagonists of the crisis (Marlé 1960). That controversy could be seen, in terms of von Hügel’s analysis, as a conflict between the institutional and the intellectual, which could be resolved by drawing on the third, mystical, element of religion. Thus, to speak of the mystical element of early Christian philosophy might suggest discerning this third element in early Christian experience, to be distinguished from the institutional and the intellectual. If one were to embark on this quest, one would find plenty to go on, for twentieth-century research on the Fathers was exceptionally open to the ‘mystical’: one thinks of titles such as Origène et la “connaissance mystique” (Crouzel), Platonisme et théologie mystique (Daniélou), Saint Augustin et le désir de Dieu (Bochet), even Dogme et spiritualité chez Cyrille d’Alexandrie (du Manoir de Juaye), the enormous interest in Evagrios, Völker’s series of 110

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monographs (Philo, Clement, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Dionysios the Areopagite, Maximos the Confessor, John Climacus, Symeon the New Theologian, Nikolaos Kavasilas), the Dictionnaire de Spiritualité. It almost begins to look as if the rediscovery of the Fathers amounted to the recovery of mysticism, or the ‘mystical’. The point of this digression on the ‘mystical element’ is that such a notion has become so important in our contemporary understanding of religion that we can easily forget that it has a strictly contemporary context and go on to make the ‘mystical element’ central to our understanding of the Fathers, to import into them von Hügel’s sense of the mystical experience of (inevitably) the individual, in contrast to the readily universalizable experience of the institutional and the essentially universalizable claims of the intellect, or even to think of the mystical as the real heart of the faith, in contrast to more external nature of the institutional and the generally abstract nature of the intellectual. What then are we seeking to understand when we consider the ‘mystical element’ in early Christianity? An alternative to carrying von Hügel’s notion of the mystical element back into the early Christian centuries might be to explore, to begin with, the Greek words from which the modern ‘mystical’ is derived: that is, words such as μυστήριον, μυστικός. In a seminal article called (in English) ‘ “Mysticism”: an Essay on the History of a Word’, Louis Bouyer demonstrated without much difficulty that the word μυστικός is used in patristic Greek in three distinct ways (Bouyer 1956). The first, and most common, way uses the word to designate the ‘mystical’ meaning of scripture; the second way is in the context of the liturgy, where from the fourth century onwards, the word μυστικός is frequently used to designate the words used, and ceremonies, and indeed items of liturgical furniture; the third meaning is least common and refers to the Christian life. But what does the word mean in these various contexts? The word itself comes from the Hellenistic mystery religions: the root of the word is μυ-, which seems to be an onomatopoeic root suggesting – through keeping the lips together – silence, a secret kept. The noun μυστήριον means, most simply, a ‘secret’, so the adjective μυστικός suggests something secret or hidden; the one who initiates others into a secret is a μυσταγώγος, the one initiated a μύστης, the process of initiation μυσταγωγία. There is certainly an increase in the use of such terminology in the fourth century when, to prevent the Christian faith being dissolved by the influx of the half-converted, the Church seems deliberately to have enhanced the awe-inspiring aspect of the Christian liturgy, not least the liturgy of Christian initiation (Yarnold 1971), but it was, as we shall see, then already long established. Bouyer argued that any similarity with Hellenistic mystery religions is superficial, the real context of this language being quite different. At its heart is the understanding of Christ as the divine μυστήριον, which is central to the epistles of the Apostle Paul (cf. Colossians 1:26–27, 2:2, 4:3; Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:4). This secret is a secret that has been declared; but despite that it remains a secret, because what has been declared cannot be simply grasped since it is God’s secret, and God is beyond any human comprehension. The secret of the Gospel is the hidden meaning of the Scriptures: for Christians the whole of what they came to call the ‘Old Testament’ finds its true meaning in Christ. God’s plan for humankind to which the Scriptures bear witness is made plain in the Incarnation. And this is the most common context, as we have seen, for the use of the word μυστικός: it refers therefore to the hidden meaning of the Scriptures, the true meaning that is revealed in Christ, a meaning that remains mysterious, for it is no simple message, but the life in Christ that is endless in its implications. Christians, however, share in the life in Christ preeminently through the sacraments – μυστήρια in Greek – and the word μυστικός is used therefore in relation to the sacraments as a way of designating the hidden reality, encountered and shared through the sacraments. The final use of the word μυστικός refers to the hidden reality of the life of baptized Christians: a reality which is, as St. Paul put it, ‘hid 111

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with Christ in God’ (Colossians 3. 3). If the ‘mysticism’ of the Fathers is what these various uses of μυστικός refer to, then it is very different from what we call mysticism nowadays: it does not refer to some elite group, or elite practice, within Christianity; it simply refers to the lived reality of Christianity itself. It is not something separate from the institutions of Christianity: it is the meaning that these institutions enshrine. It is not something distinct from the dogmas of Christianity (the ‘intellectual’ element), for the ‘mystical’ meaning of Scripture, in this sense, is often enough precisely such dogmas, which are the hidden meaning of the Scriptures. ‘Mystical’ and ‘sacramental’, from this perspective, are interchangeable: which is hardly surprising, as sacramentum is the Latin word used to translate μυστήριον. Bouyer’s purpose, in the article referred to, was primarily to refute the idea of an intrinsic connection between the Hellenistic mystery religions and the Christian sacraments: an association made much of by Protestant scholars of the religionsgeschichtlich school, and also by the great Benedictine liturgiologist, Dom Odo Casel, whose approach to the liturgy (at that stage, at any rate), Bouyer regarded as misguided. This led him to draw the conclusion that his survey of the patristic notion of the mystical had shown that ‘true mysticism’ was ecclesial, not individualistic. The danger with that way of putting it is that the modern use of the term mysticism is not at all challenged: it is endorsed, even as it is baptized. But there is more to the history of the term ‘mysticism’, and that, I suggest, points to a more radical conclusion. A further shift in the register of the term ‘mystical’ to Western Latin ears, at any rate, was explored many years ago by the great Jesuit theologian, Henri de Lubac, in his book, Corpus Mysticum (de Lubac 1949; see Certeau 1964, 1982: 107–155). Put very briefly, corpus mysticum Christi ceases to refer to the sacramental body of Christ, and instead refers to the hidden, invisible body of the predestined, while the sacramental body comes to be called corpus verum, the true body of Christ. The links that existed between the deeper meaning of Scripture, the sacramental reality, and hidden life of the believer in Christ, signified by the term μυστικός/mysticus/’mystical’, have been removed. What we have discovered, I venture to suggest, is the kind of fragmentation that von Hügel’s analysis of the three elements of religion is seeking to repair. What then is there to discuss in a chapter on the ‘mystical element’ in a chapter of a book on early Christian philosophy? What I suggest – belatedly, the patient reader might be thinking – is to look at how the early Christians sought to understand knowing and participating in God, which both they and their pagan contemporaries would have agreed involves a transformation of the one seeking such participation, and indeed a transformation of what it is to know at all. It is very easy in doing this to slip into concentrating only on those aspects where there is some evident overlap, but we can perhaps avoid that by bearing in mind the unity represented by the notion of the mystical element that we have already discovered. Two approaches seem to me worth pursuing and capable of being pursued concisely: one the role of love in the Christian understanding of coming to know God, the other a discussion of the role Moses comes to play as a model of the soul in search of God.

Love Consideration of the place of love in Christian reflection has been deeply affected in modern scholarship – utterly confused, might be a better way of putting it – by Anders Nygren’s book, Agape and Eros (Nygren 1957). It is certainly true that the commonest word for love in Greek, ἔρως, is never found in either the Septuagint or the New Testament, where the usual word of love is ἀγάπη, a relatively colourless word in classical Greek, but to regard these words as ‘fundamental motifs’, and indeed opposed motifs, is to impose on ancient usage a distinction 112

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hard to find there; indeed, when discussed, the two words are regarded as closely, if not exactly, equivalent. For our purposes the words are important as the human relationship to God or the divine is considered, both in Christianity and in classical philosophical reflection in terms of love: love inspires the quest for God, and love’s purification is important in both the Christian and the classical tradition. Nygren’s distinction overlooks, among much else, the fact that there is an asceticism of, or training in, love in the New Testament, as in the classical tradition, for example, the progress the Apostle Paul envisages in Romans, where the Christian passes from tribulation to patience, from patience to testing, from testing to hope, which is not disappointed for the ‘love of God is poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit that is given to us’ (see Romans 5:3–5, which Maximos the Confessor makes the basis of his asceticism of love: cf. On Charity 1.2–3). Nygren’s claim that here ‘the love of God’ means exclusively God’s love for us, and not ours for God, was rightly called in question by Burnaby. If there is, in Christianity, a quest for God (even if inspired first of all by God’s love for us), a quest in which God is loved and that love purified in the course of the quest, then it is not difficult to see how Greek thinkers who were Christians found themselves drawing on Greek and especially Platonic themes as they sought to explore the nature of the quest. Plato’s most famous and influential discussion of the human quest for the ultimate, seeing it in terms of love, is found in Diotima’s account given to Socrates in the Symposium. There we have an account of the ascent of the soul to the ultimate conceived of as the beautiful, an ascent in which the soul’s love, or ἔρως, is gradually purified as the soul passes from loving one beautiful body, to seeing that what constitutes the beauty of one is common to all, passing thence to love for the immaterial beauty of the soul, then to what makes the soul beautiful, namely its capacity for understanding and knowledge, and finally finding itself drawn to the ‘great ocean of the beautiful’, where suddenly/immediately – ἐξαίφνης – there is revealed ‘a wondrous vision, beautiful in its nature’ (Symposium 210DE). In the soul’s ascent to the beautiful through love, there is both purification of the soul’s love, and also a purification, simplification, of the beauty that draws it. The soul’s ἔρως remains a longing, but as it passes beyond the beloved one to beauty in itself possession for oneself is transcended, for all share in the one beauty. The beauty sought is also transformed from bodily charm to something ‘that is eternal in being, neither coming into being nor perishing, neither waxing nor waning, not partly beautiful and partly ugly’, nor relative to the beholder, but αὐτὸ καθ᾽ αὑτὸ μεθ᾽ αὑτοῦ μονοειδὲς ἀεὶ ὄν – ‘itself eternally being of one form according to itself with itself ’ (Symposium 211B). There are other accounts of such a quest, for instance in the Phaedrus (246A–247C), and in the Republic with the allegory of the cave (VII. 514A–521B); there are also remarks that resonate within the Platonic tradition, and picked up by Christians, such as Socrates’ remark in the Theaetetus that ‘flight [from the world] is assimilation to God as far as is possible’ (Theaetetus 176A). These accounts inform Christian understanding of what is involved in coming to know God: for Christian consideration of love, beauty, and purification very often draws on the reflection by Plato and later Platonists. One of the first to draw on Platonism in this way is Clement of Alexandria. In a well-known passage, he seems to envisage a meditative practice in which the soul withdraws from the world and enters into the divine (it is not surprising that one of Clement’s favourite passages from Plato is the passage from the Theaetetus just quoted): We shall understand the method of purification by confession, and the visionary (ἐποπτικὸν) method by analysis, attaining to the primary intelligence by analysis, beginning at its basic principles. We take away from the body its natural qualities, removing the dimension of height, and then that of breadth and then that of length. The point that remains is a unit (μονὰς), as it were, having position; if we take away position then we have the concept 113

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of the monad. If then we take away everything concerned with bodies and the things called incorporeal, and cast ourselves into the greatness of Christ, and so advance into the immeasurable by holiness, we might perhaps attain to the conception of the Almighty, knowing not what he is, but what he is not. (Stromateis 5.11.71, Chadwick’s tr., corrected, in Chadwick 1965: 430) Henry Chadwick compares this passage of Clement’s with similar accounts of meditative abstraction (or analysis) in Celsus (on whose text, quoted by Origen, he is quoting), Albinus (Alcinous), and Plotinus (Chadwick 1965: 429–430, n. 4). Three points should be noted: first, that the method of analysis leads to ἐποπτεία, the term used for the highest degree of initiation in the mysteries, truly here we have something we could call the ‘mystical’; secondly, this (meditative, or contemplative) practice of abstraction, a form of prayer, enables us to cast ourselves into the ‘greatness of Christ’; thirdly, what is revealed is not a form of conceptual knowledge, but ‘not what he is, but what he is not’: what later will be called ‘apophatic’ knowledge of God. Another passage from Clement to look at is also from Stromateis, where he says that Philosophy according to Moses is divided into four: into the historical, and what is properly called the legislative, to which belong matters of ethical practice, the third is the priestly, which is also natural contemplation, and the fourth, beyond all the rest, is the theological form, contemplation (ἐποπτεία), which Plato says belongs to the truly great mysteries; this form Aristotle calls metaphysics (μετὰ τὰ φυσικὰ). (Stromateis 1.176.1–2) It is most likely that Clement is saying that there are four kinds of writing in the Pentateuch, regarded as Moses’ work: history, legislation, accounts of liturgical ceremonies, and a fourth section concerned with theology, but this distinction is soon applied to the whole of the Pentateuch, indeed the whole of what Christians by this time called the Old Testament, each part of which was held to have, first, an historical or literal meaning, then a moral application, then something concerned with natural contemplation, and finally its deepest theological or contemplative meaning – foreshadowing the medieval four senses of Scripture, but also suggesting an approach to Scripture in which, as Henri de Lubac put it, ‘there is expounded as ascesis and a mysticism which can be characterized as Christological, ecclesial, and sacramental: it is a veritable history of the spiritual life, founded on dogma’ (Lubac 1959: 203). Furthermore, we find in Clement’s account a sense that, in this case, the highest meaning of Scripture can be regarded as equivalent to initiation into the highest of the mysteries. This approach early on finds its archetypal expression in relation to the Song of Songs. In his Prologue to the commentary on the Song of Songs (which survives only in the fairly free Latin translation of Rufinus, and then only the prologue and the first three books, out of a total of ten), Origen discusses first the nature of his interpretation of the Song, secondly his understanding of the nature of love, the first discussion we have of the relation of ἀγάπη and ἔρως (somewhat veiled as the Latin words for love do not match the Greek words exactly), and thirdly, returning to the hermeneutical question, how the Song relates to the other books of Wisdom in the Hebrew Bible: Proverbs and Ecclesiastes (or The Preacher). On the first question, Origen states that the Song is an epithalamium, that is a song about marriage, celebrating the love between the bride and the bridegroom; however, it is be interpreted as about the relationship between the Word of God, as the bridegroom, and the soul ‘made in his image’ or the Church, both of whom are accompanied by companions or friends. He remarks on the danger of understanding the Song as about sexual love, commenting that such danger is recognized ‘among 114

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the Hebrews’, so that it is included among the four biblical passages known as δευτερώσεις (‘repetitions’), only to be read by the mature – that is, the account of the creation in Genesis (the ‘Hexaemeron’), the first chapters of Ezekiel, with their account of the Cherubim, and the end, with its account of the building of the Temple, and the Song of Songs. Origen then turns to the second question, the theme of the Song, which is love. The Scriptures use, he argues, homonyms, and so it is when referring to love, the Scriptures avoid words that might apply to sexual love (cupido or amor, in Rufinus’ transltion, presumably ἔρως in Origen’s Greek) and instead used caritas or dilectio, in Rufinus’ translation, ἀγάπη in Origen. There are a few exceptions, where words related to ἔρως are used, which Origen gives (Proverbs 4:6; Wisdom 8:2); and in 2 Kings 13, the love that led Amnon to rape his sister Thamar is called ἀγάπη (2 Kings 13:15). There is, then, he argues no difference between ἀγάπη and ἔρως, save that ἀγάπη is ‘so exalted that even God himself is called ἀγάπη’, referring to 1 John 4:7–8. He goes on to argue that, nevertheless, these words are homonyms, quoting Ignatios, who said of Christ, ‘my ἔρως has been crucified’. This discussion is referred to by later Christian writers, such as Gregory of Nyssa and Dionysios the Areopagite (who more or less summarizes Origen’s argument in Divine Names 4), and opens the way for the Christian use of ἔρως, which thereby makes easier Christian assimilation of the Platonic use of ἔρως. The third point concerns the place of the Song in the three books ascribed to Solomon in the Hebrew Bible: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song. He draws a parallel between these three books and the three branches of learning among the Greeks: philosophia moralis, naturalis, inspectiva in Rufinus’ translation (to which some ‘among the Greeks’ add a fourth branch, logic) and explains this sequence thus: That study is called moral which inculcates a seemly manner of life and gives a grounding in habits that incline to virtue. The study called natural is that in which the nature of each single thing is considered; so that nothing in life may be done which is contrary to nature, but everything is assigned to the uses to which the Creator has brought it into being. The study called inspective is that by which we go beyond things seen and contemplate somewhat of things divine and heavenly, beholding them with the mind alone, for they are beyond the range of bodily sight. This sequence is then applied to the three books of Wisdom – Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song – so that Proverbs teaches morality, which is understood as purifying, Ecclesiastes explores what is natural, leading to a sense of transience of the created, the Song instilling in the soul love for things divine and heavenly, leading to union and communion with God. We have here the beginning of the threefold division of the soul’s ascent, characteristic of much later Christian spirituality (and sometimes called the three ways of the mystical life). The third term, inspectiva, is puzzling; in some parallel accounts it becomes the contemplative, or even the theological. It has sometimes been suggested that Rufinus misread (or a copyist mistranscribed) ἐποπτική as ἐνοπτική/inspectiva, so that the third term refers to the highest initiation in the mysteries, which would make sense and assimilate Origen to Clement, but it is no more than a guess. Origen’s understanding of the progress of the soul as a progress of deepening and purified love reveals the influence of Platonic ideas on his thought; they were to be enormously influential. His advocacy of the Song of Songs as celebrating the love that unites the soul or the Church with God was similarly powerfully influential, initiating a tradition of such commentaries (the earlier commentary on the Song by Hippolytus treats it quite differently). His most important successor in the Greek world was Gregory of Nyssa, but in the Latin world Origen’s Latin version inspired a host of commentaries on the Song, reaching its peak in the twelfth century (Astell 1990; Matter 1990). Gregory of Nyssa’s commentary (in the form of homilies) was 115

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clearly inspired by Origen. By common consent, it belongs to the last decade of his life, along with his not-dissimilar Life of Moses. The differences from Origen include greater awareness of Plotinus, Origen’s near-contemporary, with its much more coherent contemplative view of reality. The dependence of Gregory on Plotinus is difficult to calibrate, and seems to be more an awareness of one or two of Plotinus’ treatises, rather than comprehensive knowledge of the six books of the Enneads, as they were collected and arranged systematically by his disciple, Porphyry. Certain images that Plotinus used attracted Gregory’s attention, not least the comparison in Enneads 1.6.9 of purification to a sculptor cutting away at his block of stone and polishing it to reveal the beauty of the statue within, as it were: an image evoked in the Life of Moses 2.313, and found also in the Inscriptions of the Psalms 2.11, and the Commentary on the Song of Songs 14 (Daniélou 1954). Gregory takes over from Origen his account of the three stages in the progress of the soul towards union with God, relating them to the three stages of Moses’ encounter with God, as he finds it in Exodus: first, in the light, φῶς, then in the cloud, νεφέλη, and finally in darkness, γνόφος (Song of Songs 11:1000–1001). The three stages have, however, been transformed. Whereas Origen sees a progress from darkness to a greater and greater illumination, Gregory sees a progress into darkness. For him the first stage, conversion and turning to God, is experienced as light, but thereafter as the soul comes closer to God the experience is one of deeper and deeper darkness, for the soul moves away from what is familiar to what is less easy to comprehend; as it comes close to God it experiences still deeper darkness, for it comes to realize how great is the distance between God and itself, for God having created it and all else out of nothing, the soul realizes that God is utterly invisible and incomprehensible. The difference between Origen and Gregory in this is a result of the deeper awareness of the doctrine of creation ex nihilo that emerged in the course of the theological debates of the fourth century: this awareness leading to a realization that there is nothing in common between God’s being and that of the creature. Knowledge was based on the principle that ‘like knows like’; the utter unlikeness between God and the creature rendered nugatory any achieved knowledge of God by the creature. God could become known through the restoration of the image of God in accordance with which the human was created, but this was the realization of something given, and furthermore the restoration of the image, damaged by sin, could only come about through God’s initiative, manifest at its deepest in the Incarnation of the Word of God and his triumph over death on the Cross. To come to know God was not the realization of a possibility hidden in the depths of the soul – the realization of its natural affinity with God – but entry into an encounter in which the normal ways of knowing were defeated and the soul baffled, that is, entry into a darkness that became deeper and deeper the closer the soul came to God. The contrast, discontinuity, between the uncreated God and the creature was also experienced as a sense of God’s boundlessness or infinity, the realization of which, beyond the natural powers of the creature to comprehend, amounted to bafflement and disorientation. So, in contrast with some other ways of negotiating the incomprehensibility of the ultimate, the solution for Gregory could not lie in some ecstatic release or rapture; all that is left for the soul, as it comes closer to God, is a continual reaching out to God, a longing that is never ultimately satisfied, for it is a longing for a God that is infinite. In one homily on the Song, Gregory insists that the apostolic words are shown to be true: through the stretching forward to the things that are before what has already been attained is consigned to oblivion. Eternally discovering the greater and transcendent good holds the attention of those who enjoy it and prevents them from looking to the past; their delight in what is much to be preferred erases all 116

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memory of what is inferior. Such is the notion we derive from explanation of the philosophy of the bridegroom. (Song of Songs 6: 888A) Moses’ ultimate encounter with God is told in Exod. 33. When the cloud descended on the Tabernacle, God had appeared to him and ‘spoke with Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend’ (Exodus 33:11). This is, for Gregory, the manifestation in the cloud. Moses, however, wants more: ‘Show me yourself ’, he asks (33:18). God replies that he cannot see his face, for a human cannot see his face and live; but he continues: Behold this place beside me, stand on this rock. When my glory passes by, I shall put you in the cleft of the rock and cover it with my hand until I have passed by. And I shall take away my hand, and then you will see my back, for my face shall not be seen by you. (33:21–23) The highest revelation made to Moses is to see God’s back, not his face: to follow him, that is. In another place in the Commentary on the Song, Gregory speaks of the soul’s experience of the coming of God in the night; he does not reveal himself for ‘how can that which is invisible reveal itself in the night?’ – being both invisible and in the night, apprehension is doubly impossible. Nevertheless, there is revelation of a presence: for he gives the soul some sense of his presence (αἴσθησιν μέν τινα δίδωσι τῇ ψυχῇ τῆς παρουσίας), even while he eludes her clear apprehension, concealed as he is by the invisibility of his nature. What then is the mystic initiation (μυσταγωγία) that comes to the soul in this night? The Word touches the doors [of the soul]. (Song of Songs 11:1001) A ‘certain sense of his presence’, revealed through the touch of the Word, leading to μυσταγωγία, already used in the late fourth century of the Eucharistic liturgy. This reaching out of the soul for God is longing love, ἔρως, even ἀγάπη, for Gregory, like Origen, treats them as homonyms, or at least near homonyms. He speaks of the bride being ‘wounded by a spiritual and fiery dart of ἔρως’, going on to comment: ἐπιτεταμένη γὰρ ἀγάπη ὁ ἔρως λέγεται (‘for agape that is strained to intensity is called eros’: Song of Songs 13:1048CD).

Moses We have already encountered Moses, for he appears, alongside the bride, as the model of the Christian seeker after God in Gregory’s homilies on the Song (for this section, see Daniélou 1950: 131–200). The reason for this is not far to seek, for if one consults the account of Moses in the Pentateuch, we find an account of one called by God, from his birth: a call repeated in the theophany at the Burning Bush (Exodus 3), where God reveals himself to Moses as ‘the One who is’ (ὁ ὤν), which invites parallels with Greek conceptions of the God or the divine, leading to a life in which he is represented as being close to God, speaking with him face to face, and ultimately, in some sense, ‘seeing God’ (the inverted commas are necessary for, as we have seen, there is something paradoxical about Moses’ ultimate vision of God: a seeing, and not seeing). Moses’ presence in the Pentateuch, the Hebrew Torah, is not limited, however, to what is said about him (what he says about himself), for he was regarded as the author of the Pentateuch, so that the whole teaching of the Torah was regarded as revealed to Moses, and expounded by 117

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him. The beginnings of such exaltation of Moses can be found in the Wisdom of Sirach, where Moses is praised for his favour with God, which raised him to glory like that of the holy ones, and manifested itself in his power before kings and his command over the people of Israel: this is because God showed him part of his glory, sanctified him through faithfulness and obedience, chose him out of all mankind; He made him hear his voice, and led him into the thick darkness (γνόφος), and gave him the commandments face to face. (Ecclesiasticus 45:3–5) Sirach does not exactly single Moses out, for he places him among ‘famous men’, that is, the patriarchs and prophets. The decisive step in such treatment of Moses was made by Philo; in his Life of Moses, he discussed the significance of Moses in the two parts of the book, the first giving an account of his life, the second expounding the significance of his life: his displaying the kingly and philosophical faculties (for Moses, Philo claims, fulfils Plato’s hope expressed in the Republic that kings should be philosophers and philosophers kings (473D)), which had been manifest in the account given in the first part of the Life, but also his activities as legislator, in connexion with the high priesthood, and as a prophet: the subject of the second part of the Life. The overriding purpose of Part II of the Life is to demonstrate the way in which everything the classical philosophers have discovered about the nature of the cosmos is present, in a symbolical way, in Moses’ own account; as Numenius is reported (by Eusebius of Caesarea) as saying: ‘What is Plato, but Moses in Attic Greek?’ (fr. 8). A great deal is made of the way in which the four elements, and their symbolic significance, are contained in Moses’ account of the creation of the cosmos in Genesis 1 (cf. Life of Moses 2.88), as well as in the elaborate account given in Exodus (and elsewhere) of the Temple and everything associated with it, not least the detailed symbolism to be discerned in the robes of the high priest (cf. Life of Moses 2.118 ff.), where Philo is concerned to bring out the cosmic significance of the priestly vestments (and the Temple, and everything to do with it). Compared with some of the later Christian appropriations of Moses as a model for the spiritual life, Philo makes much less of Moses as one who through contemplation is admitted to a close relationship with God than in his account of the episode of the Golden Calf (Exodus 32). Moses ‘had gone up into the mountain, and was there several days communing with God’. The people grew weary of waiting and persuaded Aaron to make a Golden Calf for them to worship. The echoes of their shouting and revelling reached even to the mountain top, Moses, as they smote upon his ear, was at a loss at once loving God and loving humans. He could not bear to leave his converse with God, in which he talked with Him, in private, alone with the alone, nor yet disregard the multitude, filled with the miseries anarchy creates: very much the dilemma of Plato’s philosopher-king, resolved for Moses by God’s command to descend, which after making prayers and supplications he did (Life of Moses 2.163–166). Philo’s work was read by the Christian philosophers of Alexandria, and one can find echoes, not, it has to be said, very striking echoes, in Clement and Origen. Clement remarks on Moses’ request to see God in Exodus 33, Therefore Moses, persuaded that God will never be known to human wisdom, says, ‘Show me yourself ’, and is forced to enter ‘into the darkness’, where the voice of God was, that is, into the inaccessible and formless concepts concerning the One who is; for God is not in 118

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darkness or place, but transcends place and time and anything connected with what comes into being. (Stromateis 2. 6. 1) Origen has a whole homily on Moses – on the radiance of his face and the veil he placed over it: this, too, is quite reticent, very much conscious of Paul’s treatment of Moses in 2 Corinthians 3, where he mentions the inability of the Israelites to bear the radiance of Moses’ face, for which reason he places a veil over his face, this contrasted with the reading of the Torah by Christians, who in turning to Christ have the veil removed. He comments, too, on the difference between Moses, in the Law, whose face alone is radiant, while at the Transfiguration, when Moses appears beside Christ, he is entirely glorified (Homilies on Exodus 12). It is with Gregory of Nyssa that we find Moses taken as a model of the spiritual life. His inspiration is clearly Philo, for his Life of Moses, like Philo’s, is in two parts: the first telling the story of Moses, the second exploring its significance for the spiritual life. As we have seen, Gregory had already taken Moses as the model of one in search of God in his homilies on the Song of Songs, placing him alongside the bride. Shortly after writing these homilies, he composed his treatise of the Life of Moses, one of his last works (he comments on his πολία, grey hairs: Life of Moses 1.2), and fills out in greater detail the account of Moses’ progress through light, to the cloud, and finally in the darkness. This greater detail covers aspects of Moses’ life, for instance, the fashioning of the tabernacle that is not so prominent in the Homilies on the Song, but it is interesting to note the difference between Philo’s treatment and Gregory’s: Philo is primarily concerned with the cosmic dimension of the tabernacle and its fittings, as well as of the high priestly vestment. Gregory, in contrast, passes over this quite swiftly, concentrating rather on the spiritual lessons for the soul that are to be found here. The tunic of the high priest is dyed blue (ὑάκινθος), for which Philo gives a cosmological significance – it signifies the element of air – Gregory remarks on this, but gives his own meaning, about the way the one who seeks God must make his body thin like a spider’s web by the purity of his life, so that he comes ‘near to the one who is without mass and as light as air’ (Life of Moses 2.191). Of the experience of Moses in the cleft of the rock, when in response to his request to see God, he is granted to see God’s back, we read in the Life of Moses, that ‘therefore Moses, seeking to see God, is now taught what it means to see God, that is, to follow God wherever he might lead: this is to see God’ (Life of Moses 2.252). As Puech long ago remarked, allegorization of episodes in Moses’ life is a characteristic of Gregory’s (Puech 1978: 137). The figure of Moses is also important to Dionysios the Areopagite, and this importance he doubtless owes to Gregory. Moses is described as ‘the foremost initiator and leader among the hierarchs according to the law’ (Ecclesiastical Hierarchy 5.1: 501C). But his importance for Dionysios extends into ‘our’ hierarchy, and he is the central figure of the Mystical Theology, which focuses on his ascent. Whatever the Mystical Theology is about, Moses is the model and exemplar. The ascent in Mystical Theology 1 shifts from talking in general about those who seek to ascend to God and the figure of Moses himself: For not simply is the divine Moses bidden first of all to purify himself and then separate himself from those not just purified; but after all purification, he hears the many-sounding trumpets and sees many lights which flash forth pure and widely diffused rays. Then he separates himself from the multitude and with the chosen priests he reaches the summit of the divine ascents. But not even here does he hold converse with God himself, for does he behold him (for he is invisible), but only the place where he is. And this, I think, means that the most divine and exalted of the things that are seen with the eye or perceived by 119

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the mind are but suggestions that barely hint at the nature of that which transcends any conception whatsoever, a presence which sets but its feet upon the spiritual pinnacles of its most holy places. And then Moses is cut off from both things seen and those who see and enters into the darkness of unknowing, a truly hidden darkness, according to which he shuts his eyes to all apprehensions that convey knowledge, for he has passed into a realm quite beyond any feeling or seeing. Now, belonging wholly to that which is beyond all, and yet to nothing at all, and being neither himself, nor another, and united in his highest part in passivity with Him who is completely unknowable, he knows by not knowing in a manner that transcends understanding. (Mystical Theology 1.3: 1000B–1001A) This is a passage that for centuries has been taken to describe the ascent of the soul to union with God in a darkness of unknowing, a passing in ecstasy beyond anything within created powers. But there is more to it than that. Puech noticed long ago that the verbs used to describe Moses’ entry into the darkness are not, as one would expect, taken from Exodus, which uses the simple verb εἰσήλθεν, whereas Dionysios uses εἰσδυομένοις (1000C) and εἰσδύνει (1001A), forms of a verb he has adopted from Gregory of Nyssa; furthermore the other examples of words using the root δυν- bear liturgical associations (Puech 1978: 132). Rorem has pointed out that the way Moses’ preparations for ascending the mount are described also suggest a liturgical context (Rorem 1984: 140–142, 1989): which entails that the ‘mystical element’ encountered here has everything to do with the μυσταγωγία of the Church, as well as with the modalities of the Christian life ‘hidden with Christ in God’ (Col. 3:3).

Bibliography Page references to Gregory of Nyssa and Dionysius are from Patrologia Graeca, 3 (Dionysius) and 44 (Nyssen). Astell, Ann W. (1990), The Song of Songs in the Middle Ages, Ithaca; London: Cornell University Press. Bouyer, Louis (1956), “ ‘Mysticism’: An Essay on the History of a Word”, Eng. trans. in A. Plé et al., Mystery and Mysticism, London: Blackfriars Publications, 1956, 18–32; originally published in La Vie Spirituelle (supplément, 1952), 397–412. Certeau, Michel de (1964), “ ‘Mystique’ au XVIIe siècle; le problème du langage ‘mystique’ ”, in L’Homme devant Dieu, 2 vols., Paris: Aubier, 267–291. Certeau, Michel de (1982), Le Fable mystique, Paris: Gallimard. Chadwick, H. (trans.). (1965), Origen: Contra Celsum, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Daniélou, Jean (1950), Sacramentum Futuri: Études sur les origins de la typologie biblique, Paris: Beauchesne. Daniélou, Jean (1954), “Grégoire de Nysse et Plotin”, in Congrès de Tours, Paris: Association Guillaume Budé, 259–262. Hügel, Baron Friedrich von (1927), The Mystical Element of Religion as Studied in Saint Catherine of Genoa and Her Friends, London: J. M. Dent, reprint of 2nd ed., 1923; originally published 1908. Lubac, Henri de (1949), Corpus Mysticum: L’eucharistie et l’église au moyen age, 2nd rev. ed., Paris: Aubier; original ed. 1943). Lubac, Henri de (1959), Exégèse médiévale, Part I, 1 vol., Paris: Aubier. Marlé, René (ed.). (1960), Au Cœur de la crise moderniste, Paris: Aubier. Massignon, Louis (1982), The Passion of al-Hallāj, Mystic and Martyr of Islam, trans. Herbert Mason from the new edition of 1975, 4 vols., Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Matter, E. Ann (1990), The Voice of my Beloved: The Song of Songs in Western Medieval Christianity, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Nygren, Anders (1957), Agape and Eros, Philip S. Watson (trans.), London: SPCK, reprint of 1953 ed.

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Puech, Henri-Charles (1978), “Le Ténèbre mystique chez le Pseudo-Denys l’Aréopagite”, in En Quête de la gnose, I. La gnose et le temps, Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 119–141. Rorem, Paul (1984), Biblical and Liturgical Symbols Within the Pseudo-Dionysian Synthesis, Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediæval Studies. Rorem, Paul (1989), “Moses as Paradigm for the Liturgical Spirituality of Pseudo-Dionysius”, Studia Patristica 18.2, 275–279. Yarnold, E. J. (1971), The Awe-inspiring Rites of Initiation, Slough: St Paul’s Publication.

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Section 2

Doctrines

10 The Trinity Giulio Maspero

Introduction In the realm of Christian philosophy, the doctrine of the Trinity fulfils a role analogous to that of metaphysics in Greek thought. However, the proof of this thesis has to be preceded by two premises, both of them of an antireductionist type: (i) the first refers to the overcoming of an epistemological approach which understands the relationship between philosophy and theology in a dialectical sense; (ii) the second indicates the impossibility of conceiving the Trinitarian and Christological doctrines as separate spheres and ones that were even chronologically distinct in their development. The first, methodological part of the present chapter will be devoted to these premises. It will be followed by a section which will attempt to prove the thesis by showing that the term theology came to indicate the doctrine of the Trinity in the fourth century A.D. starting from its initial identification with metaphysics in the fourth century B.C. A final section will be devoted to illustrating, on the level of content, the ontological novelty introduced by the work of the Fathers of the Church in their task of formulating the Trinitarian dogma with their work on categories, in particular that of relation. The association of the doctrine of the Trinity with Christian metaphysics will thus be presented in two stages: after having showed the identification of the two and so the existence of an ontology founded on revelation, we shall indicate its content by referring to some of its essential characteristics.

Epistemological premises (i) As Johannes Zachhuber has clearly shown,1 patristic theology can be considered a real philosophical school if and only if the binary opposition between the “dependency thesis” and the “opposition thesis” is overcome. The former would attribute Christian doctrine to the philosophical forms which preceded it from which it would have developed. By contrast, the second considers the philosophical elements taken up by patristic thought as a source of corruption with respect to the original purity of the revealed datum. It is enough to think of the difference of perspective between Chadwick2 and Harnack.3 For the question under examination, however, it is essential to integrate both these approaches in a more relational perspective like 125

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that proposed by Christian Gnilka. The latter has demonstrated both the points of contact and the work of attaching new meaning performed by the Fathers with regard to their philosophical sources. The use (chrêsis) of the different elements is founded on a judgement (krisis) which adopts the components of truth discovered by the pagan authors on the basis of their valuation in the light of Revelation.4 (ii) Analogously to how theology cannot be conceived anachronistically as a separate discipline from philosophy, according to that academic scheme which arose in the medieval period, so, within patristic thought itself, Trinitarian reflection cannot be isolated from Christological thought. In fact, it is the paradox created by the claim to divinity advanced by Jesus of Nazareth to propose inescapably the metaphysical question of the relationship between the one and the many. As incarnate Logos, Christ refers to his Abba, that is, to God, as his Father in a perfect identity of nature. As Émile Benveniste has observed, there normally exist two different terms to indicate paternity in the Indo-European area of human institutions: the generic, which can also refer to the fatherland, the king etc., and the familiar, which always implies connaturality.5 This is the essential difference between patêr and abba, a difference which also explains the evangelists’ choice in not translating the term. The crucifixion itself was the result of the clear understanding of Jesus’ contemporaries that he was calling himself “son” in a way that was substantially different from that which was acceptable for the Hebrew people. Thus, the Trinitarian question arises from Christology and returns to it. Lewis Ayres’s identification of a Christological epistemology at the base of Augustine’s On the Trinity is significant.6 Moreover, from the chronological point of view, the difficulty of clearly separating the development of the patristic Trinitarian doctrine from the Christological one is shown, positively, by the anticipation by Gregory of Nyssa in the fourth century of some Christological elements developed in the sixth century around the Second Council of Constantinople7 and, negatively, by the accusation of tritheism directed at John Philoponus.8 Both the premises just mentioned are dictated by the need to avoid anachronism, a particularly acute risk when one is looking at the philosophy of Late Antiquity in its relationship with Christianity from the contemporary perspective. In fact, the latter is characterised by a difficulty in perceiving the religious and salvific dimension of classical philosophical study, a dimension which is only intensified in the comparison with Christianity, precisely in Late Antiquity. The Fathers’ criticisms of philosophy are never directed against the use of reason, not even in Tertullian, whose “certum est quia impossibile est” goes back to the Aristotelian tradition,9 but on the inadequacy of the salvific proposals offered by the different schools of philosophy. As Pierre Hadot has masterfully demonstrated, the ancient thinkers’ search for the first principle had as its aim the determination of the form of life which could be lived in fullness.10 Otherwise, it would be impossible to understand the closeness of Neoplatonism to Christianity, starting from the dialectical positions such as those which characterise the Contra christianos of Porphyry. On the one hand, the gradual emergence of the religious dimension in this philosophical school is clear to the point where, in Iamblichus, theurgy, prayer and purifications form an essential part of the philosophical life.11 Moreover, Proclus defines metaphysics as theurgy.12 On the other hand, the thesis of an absolute distinction between philosophy and theology would make it impossible to explain historically the request addressed to the emperor by the Neoplatonic philosophers in Nicomedia, in the Consilium Principis of 302/303, to unleash the final great persecution against the Christians.13 A fortiori this impossibility of an epistemological approach to patristic thought which would separate the spiritual dimension and that of prayer from doctrine would turn out to be heavily vitiated by anachronism. In this connection, absolutely convincing are Sarah Coakley’s 126

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criticisms of Maurice Wiles on the presumed pneumatological deficit of the first centuries.14 The former’s prayer-based approach15 demonstrates that the absence of treatises and texts explicitly devoted to the third divine Person does not indicate the absence of the third Person from the faith of believers but rather the calm acceptance, and even the evidence, of his presence for the multiplication of charismatic phenomena in the early Church. In fact, only when a question becomes controversial do texts appear which debate it; silence, for the most part, can indicate exactly the opposite of what some claim to deduce from it, all the more when the liturgical data and the traces of spiritual life indicate a full knowledge of the divinity of the Holy Spirit among believers.

Metaphysics and theology The impossibility of considering the Trinitarian doctrine regardless of philosophical reflection in metaphysics is demonstrated by a first macroscopic datum: in the course of their development, both are indicated by the Greek term theologia. To go back over the history of this semantic shift briefly could also serve to make still more evident the previously-mentioned connection between religion and metaphysics.16 According to the evidence in Greek literature, theologoi is the name given to the first poets such as Orpheus, Homer and Hesiod, or the prose writers who transmitted the myths of the gods explaining the origin and foundation of the world. Thus theology arose as theogony according to what was written about Pherecydes.17 Later, the birth of the gods is represented in theatrical works where theologeion is the name of that upper part of the stage from which the gods enter.18 However, the Sophist criticism of the fifth century B.C. was to put these traditions into crisis through Protagoras’s work of demythologisation and rational criticism. The reaction of Plato and Aristotle marked the birth of metaphysics as the study of what is truly beyond the appearance of the cosmic realities (ta physika) and of the narrative and imaginary clothing of the myths. Thus, the rational arsenal of the Sophists was to be used to show exactly the opposite of what they tried to affirm: man as the centre of all things, as proposed by Protagoras, is opposed by Plato’s God as the centre of everything (cf. Jaeger 1947). Homer and Hesiod already contained an embryonic rational reflection in that the various divinities were organised hierarchically and attributed to a theogony, and so to a system of gods. Subsequent rational developments came with the pre-Socratic physicists, investigators of the principle of nature, who were to demolish the anthropomorphism of the myths. Their arguments were to be taken up both by Plato and by the Fathers against the pagan gods, in connection with the oneness of God, for example. However, Plato and Aristotle see the real moves from the gods to the Divinity, providing substantial support for Christian thinkers and their anti-idolatrous criticism (cf. Jaeger 1947: 42–50). Extremely significant is the following text from the Republic in which Socrates maintains the need to transmit to the young a theology alternative to that of the poets: And I said: O Adimantus, you and I are not poets but founders of a city: founders ought to know the forms with which the poets of myths should speak (mythologein), not allowing them to exceed their limits, but it is not their business to compose myths. – You are right, but just what would be these forms of theology (theologia) in which to speak of the gods? – And I said: those, I think, in which the Divinity is always represented as he is whether that is in epic songs, in lyrics or in tragedy. – Certainly. (Plato, Republic 378e7-379b1). 127

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Thus, from the opposition between mythologein and theologein arises metaphysics as representation of the Divinity as it is, for the search, therefore, for the true, ultimate foundation of the real. This is Aristotle’s course in his Metaphysics, which inherits the connection between the terminology bound to theology and the poet-authors of the myths (Metaphysics 983b27–983b30) but chooses to follow the master’s practice in the classification of the sciences on the basis of the materiality and the movement of causes: So that there are three types of philosophy: mathematics, physics and the theological ­(theologikê) – it is clear that, if one can say that the Divinity exists, he exists in this nature. (Metaphysics 1026a 18–21) The ultimate form of philosophy is the highest science because its object is the most elevated. This classification is restated in book 11, in 1064.b, where he takes up again this epistemological subdivision, having restated that the divine principle is Being (Metaphysics 1964b1–4). Some authors have questioned the importance of Aristotle’s contribution to the history of the term theologia on account of the scarceness of references and questions of authenticity.19 The proposed alternative would be the Stoics who developed the idea of a tripartite theology divided into mythology, physics and politics. The first would belong to the poets, the second to the philosophers and the third to the priests. Present also in Eusebius (Preparation for the Gospel), this idea passed into the Latin world thanks, above all, to Varro, as Augustine testifies in books 6–7 of the City of God.20 However, Werner Jaeger claims it very probable that the Aristotelian development of this terminology began in the Platonic school since Aristotle’s interest in theology derives from his Platonic phase. In any case, the passage of the terminology linked to theologia in the language of the Fathers of the fourth century A.D. is certainly connected to the Platonic-Aristotelian tradition.21 The essential role of this tradition is clear also in Philo: although knowing the origin of the term in pagan religion, in his comment on Ex 3:14, he applies theologos to Moses, affirming that the tetragrammaton is the name of God.22 The strict Jewish criticism of idolatry would not have allowed an operation like this if the Platonic tradition had not already radically transformed the term in a monotheistic sense. This is confirmed by the example of Justin after the hesitation of the Apostolic Father in the face of the semantic family bound up with theologia.23 Commenting on Abraham’s encounter with the three angels at the oak of Mambre (cf. Gen 18), he compares his interpretation with that of Trypho. The latter affirms that this concerns only three angels since God appeared before they did. Justin denies this, showing that one of the angels is God: Now, if you say that the Holy Spirit calls God and Lord (theologein kai kyriologein) someone other than the Father of all things and his Christ, answer me and I will engage in demonstrating to you, starting precisely from the Scriptures, that the one whom the Scripture calls Lord is not one of the two angels who go to Sodom but the one who is with them and who is called God when he appears to Abraham.24 This text is particularly important because it presents the perfect equivalence between theologein and kyriolegein, based on that between theos and kyrios: to do theology means recognising as God in conformity with ancient thought. The absolute novelty lies in the fact that now it is the Holy Spirit who speaks: the Divinity reveals itself. For the identification of theologia and Trinitarian doctrine, the school of Alexandria was to be fundamental. It leaned explicitly on the Platonic-Aristotelian tradition. Clement opposes the 128

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false polytheistic theology-theogony of the poets and the true theology (theologian alêthinên)25 of the philosophers: So then, pagan Greek philosophy extracted a fragment of eternal truth not from the mythology of Dionysius but from the theology of the Logos who always is. (Clement, Stromateis 1.13.57.6.1–4) Christianity itself is thus seen as the true philosophy because Being and God coincide: real philosophy and the most authentic theology are inseparable (Clement, Stromateis 5.9.56.3.1–2). Then, the effort to bring together the fragments of truth was to imply that the allegorical method and the symbolical interpretation are essential to arrive at the right theology (tên orthên theologian).26 That is why Moses can be called theologian and prophet (Clement, Stromateis 1.22.150.4.2) and his teachings described as philosophy, especially regarding that form of theology, which Plato says “constitutes the really great mysteries” and which Aristotle calls metaphysics (ibid. 1.28.176.2.1–3.2). Origen was to see the powerful emergence of the connection between theology and Scripture. If metaphysics arose as the exegesis of the myth by Plato and Aristotle, now the Christian is called to learn directly from the voice of the Logos as it speaks of God starting from Scripture: He [Jesus], speaking of God (theologôn), announced to his true disciples the truths about God: finding their traces in the Scriptures, we have been prompted to speak of God (theologein). (Against Celsus 2.71.5–7) Thus, the theology of the Word assumes a central role in Origen’s thought: this consists in interpreting the Scriptures correctly to give Christ the divine attributes which correspond to him following what he revealed in his person. Therefore, there appear expressions like “the theology of the Saviour” (Origen, Commentary on John 1.24.157.1) and “the theology of Jesus” (Commentary on Matthew 12.38.23). The recognition of the divinity of Christ leads directly to the Trinity: both doctrines remain inseparable. Origen is one of the essential links in the chain which was to lead to understanding theologia in its particular sense as Trinitarian doctrine: Perhaps the prophetic testimonies are not limited to the coming of Christ and do not teach us this and nothing else, but it is possible to learn much theology (theologia) and the relation of the Father with the Son and of the Son with the Father from the Prophets, through what they announce of him, no less than from the Apostles who proclaim the magnificence of the Son of God. (Commentary on John 2.34.205.1–7) This is why John the evangelist begins to be called theologos:27 the prologue of the Fourth Gospel becomes a key text in the labour for the recognition of the Trinitarian mystery. Origen is the first to use an expression which would later be very widespread. In the fourth century, the occurrences of the terminology linked to theologia increase enormously: it assumes a technical value, moving to the heart of the Arian controversy. For example, Athanasius accuses his enemies of being like the pagans when they place the creation as an object of theologein (Epistles to Serapion 1.29.2). Thus, Athanasius’s theologia is opposed directly 129

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to the Hellenic mythologia (Against the Nations 19.34–35). It is no longer a question of opposing true and false theologies like Clement of Alexandria: now the true theology is that which regards the Trinity and the single divine nature of the three Persons; all the rest is only mythology, because it confuses the creature and the Creator. The homoousios itself is presented as a traditional datum to express the theologia of the Father and the Son (Decrees of Nicene Synod 33.13). It is unity of essence which makes the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit inseparable in such a way that theology is perfect only if the honour given to the Three is the same, and this principle is immutable: Whoever takes away honour from the Son, takes away honour also from the Father. But when theology (theologia) is perfect in the Trinity, then it is also the true and only piety. And this is the good and the truth: and it had always to be thus, so that the good and the truth were not accessories, and the full perfection of theology (theologia) was not achieved through additions. (Orations against the Arians 1.18.3–4) Basil was to follow Athanasius’s approach but perfected it by introducing the fundamental distinction between theologia and oikonomia, developed precisely in the wake of Arian criticism. Debating with Eunomius that “He made him Lord and Christ” of Acts 2:36, he says: It is clear to whoever wants to examine the apostle’s text even a little that he is not transmitting a form of theology (theologia), but is clarifying the economy (oikonomia). (Basil, Against Eunomius 2.3) The Arians cited the passage from Acts as proof of the Son’s subordination to the Father. If he was “made” Lord, that would necessarily mean that he was not this before. However, Basil distinguishes what scripture refers to the divinity of Christ and what it refers to his humanity as in the case of the quotation discussed. Gregory of Nyssa was to take up this distinction developed by his brother (Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius 3.3.49.3–9), one which was to rise to a structural principle of theological thought.28 The three divine Persons are identified with the one eternal nature and cannot be confused with the creation which began to be. In this way, only the incarnation of the Son could overcome the abyss separating the Creator from his creatures, but that does not mean that he is in an intermediate position between God and the world, or that he began to be: Tell the evangelist, replying to these statements, tell him your wise affirmations, Eunomius: how can you use the name of Father and Only Begotten when every corporal generation is effected through a passion? Certainly truth answers you in his name that the mystery of theology (theologias mystêrion) is one thing, another the physiology of bodies subject to becoming. And these things have been separated as though by a barrier set in the great distance which separates the one from the other. Why do you unite with your discourse what cannot be united? How can you stain the purity of the divine generation with your filthy discourse? How can you contrive to subject the incorporeal to the laws of the bodily passions? Do not give a physical explanation to heavenly realities on the basis of inferior ones. (Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius 3.2.24.1–10) This explains why Gregory of Nyssa calls Eunomius a “carnal” theologian (Against Eunomius 6.43.7), as well as a “neo-theologian”29 and, with ferocious irony, a “wise”, “authoritative” 130

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and “sublime” theologian.30 The point is that the latter projects creaturely categories onto the eternal generation, confusing God with the world. However, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit constitute and exhaust theologia, that is, the eternal and infinite dimension which characterises the divine nature, and it alone. It is clear, therefore, that theologia arises as a term to designate the works of the poets which make up the mythologies and theogonies, to be transformed, with Plato and Aristotle, into metaphysics. Then, the Fathers developed its Trinitarian meaning which, in the fourth century, leads to the identification of the immanent dimension of God with theologia itself, distinct from the history of salvation. However, to grasp the fundamental value of this semantic shift, it could be useful to propose a narrative which shows how, at the level of content, the Trinitarian thought of the Fathers can be understood in all its ontological significance only against the background of the metaphysical parabola which led from the classical age to the philosophy of the later period.

A new ontology For the classical Greek world, there existed a single finite metaphysical order which, from the Pythagoreans until Plato and Aristotle, was governed by a double principle corresponding to identity and multiplicity, whether these are found under the form of the pairs One and Dyad,31 idea and matter, or act and potency. However, this ontological dualism was to undergo a substantial transformation in the passage to Middle Platonism through the effect of Philo and neo-Pythagoreanism.32 Specifically, Eudorus seems to have been the first to place a One as first principle above the pair Monad-Dyad,33 thus establishing an authentic monism.34 That “demolished” the structure of the single ontological order of the previous metaphysics, raising the issue of how to relate the one and the many. We are thus at a real crossroads: Philo could not accept a degenerative conception of the material world on account of the Jewish doctrine of creation which he attempted to reconcile with Platonism.35 In the thought of Moderatus, on the other hand, the negative nature of matter, already implicit in Eudorus, is made explicit in a hierarchical system made up of successive degenerations. To a certain degree, these anticipate Plotinus’s structure towards which the new metaphysical monism tends through its internal logic.36 This is where a triadic rhythm appears with the passage to the doctrine of the three gods in fragment 24 of Numenius, an author read in the school of Plotinus. One thinks too of the example of the three lights from lamps lit from one another in fragment 14. This was to have a direct influence on patristic Trinitarianism.37 From the monist point of view, the distinction within the single ontological order between the first principle and the many is necessarily conceived of as degeneration: the derivation of one cause from another superior to it is translated into an ontological descent. There is no longer a double principle from whose interaction there emerges the real with its dynamic. Thus, in Numenius, the tension is downloaded onto matter: he postulates such a perfect transmission of the intelligible as to identify souls with parts of the divine Being; but that obliges him to emphasise the negative nature of the material world to save the distinction between God and the world.38 Therefore, within Neoplatonic thought, Porphyry was to formulate the need for the inferiority of the generated with respect to the one generating39 and the absence of relations between the two.40 The Trinitarian importance of this metaphysical step is clear because monism requires a new solution to the question of the relationship between the first principle and the world. 131

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In the Christian sphere, however, starting from its Jewish heritage, there emerge two essential metaphysical novelties which characterise the development of Trinitarian theology: a) whereas in the Greek conception, the first principle and the world are connected necessarily, the doctrine of creation introduces an absolute discontinuity between Creator and creature, a discontinuity which, in the last text cited at the end of the previous section, is translated in terms of a barrier or gap which separates the Trinity radically from the cosmos; b) whereas the single metaphysical order of the Greeks which comprised the first principle and the world was finite and eternal, Christian theology was to distinguish God as the unique eternal and infinite nature from the finite created nature subject to the limits of temporality. From an ontological point of view, these new principles brought about primarily the overcoming of the identification between being and the intelligible. Obviously, God remains metaphysically bound to truth in that the Logos himself characterises him in his intimate nature, but neither God nor the world created by Him can now be understood by going back along the chain of necessary causes which, in the Greek perspective, linked the cosmos to the first principle. In this way, for the first time, ontology and gnoseology became really distinct. Obviously, this new metaphysical conception was the result of a process which took its cue from the first attempts of the Apologists. The latter were impelled to make explicit the philosophical content implicit in the Revelation in order to defend their own faith. Thus, Theophilus and Justin referred to the Stoic distinction41 between logos endiathetos and logos prophorikos to speak of the Word and his role in creation.42 Before creating, the Father, like a craftsman, must have a design, a thought about what he is making, and this thought must be eternal like Him. However, Irenaeus and the subsequent Fathers criticised this because it risked yet again binding the Logos to the creation in a necessary way in that the Son seems to be thought of as a function of the creation.43 It was a question of avoiding understanding the second divine Person along the lines of the Platonic eros as ontological mediator between God and the world, as a metaxu metaphysically between the Creator and the creature. Yet the metaphysical categories to express this novelty were lacking. Essential for this is the work of Origen, expert in the philosophical tradition,44 and so able to elaborate new concepts and terminological elements. His thought succeeded in overcoming the limits of the Apologists’ Logostheologie.45 In his epinoetic analysis, he brought the Logos on to a second logical plane, giving priority to the Son and to Wisdom. He was impelled to this also by the need to deny, against the Valentinians, that the divine Logos was a prophora of the Father (Commentary on Matthew 1.151.7–11). Similarly, in the Trinitarian field, he avoided using the distinction between logos prophorikos and logos endiathetos, which he knew well and applied on the level of exegetical method (Commentary on Matthew 11.2.8–14). He thus highlighted that barrier or gap that was totally absent in the gradual and degenerative ontology of the gnostics. It was this absence which rendered possible to human reason conceptual access to the essence of the first principle. Origen makes clear, however, that only the second divine Person enables knowledge of the Father: If through logos is understood what is in us, whether interior (endiathetôi) or expressed (prophorikôi), we also say that God is not accessible to the logos, but, if we think of “In the beginning was the Logos and the Logos was with God and the Logos was God” (Jn 1:1), we are declaring that God is accessible to this Logos, and that he is understood not only by Him, but also by the one to whom “He reveals the Father” [Matthew 11:27]. We thus prove false Celsus’s claim that God is not accessible to the Logos. (Origen, Against Celsus 6.65.8–16)

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The logos prophorikos and logos endiathetos are applied here to the human, not the divine Logos so as to exclude the possibility of access to God without recourse to revelation. This indicates clearly the authentic transcendence of the second divine Person with respect to the created, and his belonging, together with the Spirit, to the authentically divine sphere. Yet there remains a tension because the intratrinitarian distinction is still expressed through recourse to participation. The distance between the Father and the other two Persons is actually greater than that of these two with respect to creation.46 In sum, in articulating the relationship between God and the world, Origen neatly overcomes every possible gradual conception. However, this remains at the expressive level in the intradivine dimension because of the simple inadequacy of the metaphysical tools available. For example, it is significant that, by contrast with fourth-century developments, for him the distinction between the Trinity and the world is not expressed in terms of nature but by having recourse to pure spirituality.47 Only the Father, the Son and the Spirit are purely spiritual whereas both the angels and human beings are characterised by a subtle body. The difference of nature between these last ontological orders is vague in that both the first and the second are essentially “souls”.48 This was to have serious consequences on the architectural level because access to the Trinity would be considered possible through the Logos himself and not through the Logos incarnate, that is, in history and thanks to the sacraments. The Eucharist would be considered necessary only for the simple people, while for the true gnostic it would be possible to ascend to God through Scripture.49 However, all this cannot obscure the radical ontological novelty introduced by his exegesis. In his commentary on Jn 1:1, Origen has to make clear that the in which opens the verse “In principle was the Logos” (Jn 1:1) should be read from the perspective of eternity.50 This can be understood against the background of the identity between the accidental dimension and the expression “to be in something else”. Origen felt the necessity to explain that the Logos in the Johannine prologue is according to the substance (kat’ ousian) one with God.51 It is clear that every charge of subordinationism addressed at Origen, like the Arian claim to be inspired by his thought, cannot be sustained.52 Ilaria Ramelli has argued very effectively along these lines.53 But, with regard to the issue in question, the most important point is that these accusations do not take into account the clear ontological innovation introduced by Origen. He affirms that in the Trinity there is no “more or less”,54 making use of an Aristotelian formula55 which was to be taken up again in Cappadocian theology in the response to Eunomius.56 The point is crucial because in the tradition of Aristotelian commentators, the sphere of the “more and less” coincided with that of the accidental.57 This explains why Eusebius, in his polemic with Marcellus, focuses on the exegesis of the preposition “in” in the first verse of the Prologue. John wrote “The Logos was with (pros) God” instead of “The Word was in (en) God” so as not to lower the Logos himself to the human condition, that is, to the accidental level.58 The subtlety of the argument is based again on the discussion of the prepositions in the Johannine expressions. The use of in would have referred directly to the inhering of an accident in the substance. That is why Eusebius explicitly excludes that the divine Logos belongs to relatives. [The evangelist] is saying: do not think that He [the Logos] belongs to relatives (tôn pros ti), like the logos in the soul or like the logos which is heard thanks to the voice or like the logos which is found in the material seeds or exists in the mathematical entities. All these, which are relatives (tôn pros ti), are considered in another substance pre-existing them. Whereas

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the Logos who is God has no need of anything else pre-existing him so as to be subsisting in it, but he is of himself in that he lives and subsists as God.59 Thus, the subsequent Cappadocian identification between the pros and the en of the Johannine Prologue can be read as the result of a process of ontological reshaping which, having reformulated the structure of metaphysics from the perspective of Revelation, leads to a real rethinking of the Aristotelian categories. Relation, like schêsis and pros ti, is given a new meaning so that it can be introduced into the divine substance. This question is an essential element of the dispute with Eunomius, who places reciprocal relation (pros allêla schesis) at the heart of the graduated structure of neo-Arian metaphysics60 as the necessary element distinguishing the different ousiai of the divine Persons.61 Gregory responds describing Eunomius’s argumentation as the “technology of blasphemy”.62 In doing so, he refers to the Aristotelian tradition63 while accusing Eunomius of deliberately forgetting the revealed names of the divine Persons which necessarily indicate the identity of nature: Every human being who hears the name father and son immediately recognizes from these very names their reciprocal relation (pros allêla schêsin) of kinship and of nature.64 The Greek term schêsis is not understood here as something external to substance but as immanent. Indeed, it cannot in this context be understood as a relationship with another, with some other nature or substance. This alters the ontological stature of relation itself, as is proved by the repetition of the Origenian formula “there is no more or less in the Trinity”.65 This directly challenged Aristotle’s doctrine that no substance can be counted among the relative entities (tôn pros ti),66 as well as his affirmation that relational realities are minimal with respect to other realities from a perspective of ontological density (Aristotle, Metaphysics 1088a23–1088a24). The metaphysical significance of the preposition en is here changed by the new ontological value assigned by Gregory of Nyssa to pros: The Father is principle (archê) of all things. But it is proclaimed that the Son is also in this principle, since he is by nature that which the principle is. In fact, God is principle and the Logos that is in the principle is God.67 The Son can be in the Father, that is, in the first principle, characterised now by an immanence, thus being identified with the same substance and nature with each of the three divine Persons is identified. Thus, contrary to Eusebius, the Logos belongs to relatives (tôn pros ti),68 which now cease to have an ontological value that must be accidental.69 The principal metaphysical novelty introduced by the Fathers with their Trinitarian doctrine is thus formulated.

Conclusion We have sought to show how, in the realm of Christian philosophy, the doctrine of the Trinity fulfils the role of metaphysics in classical Greek thought. The very term theologia, born in mythology, is later adopted by Plato and Aristotle as the name for metaphysics itself. From here it was taken by the Fathers of the Church who identified it with Trinitarian theology. That led to the development of a new ontology inspired by revelation. It was not opposed to what preceded, but revised some of its fundamental principles: (a) the distinction of God and the world in two orders of which the first is eternal and infinite whereas the second is finite 134

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and had a beginning; (b) the consequent recognition that the arché has an immanence; (c) the relational reunderstanding of the divine Persons, thanks to which the schêsis itself with the pros ti is referred to the very heart of the divine substance. These three characteristics are only some of many which could be pinpointed from the Fathers’ metaphysical work in their rereading of the Aristotelian Categories. However, these ones have the virtue of being connected with the beginning of the Johannine Prologue where the arché, the Logos and the pros make their appearance. It is extremely significant that these very terms underpin an awareness on the part of the author of the double value of the first two, both in Greek and in Hebrew.70 The in principio which begins the Prologue clearly recalls the beginning of Genesis but through that Greek term which was at the basis of metaphysical enquiry. Similarly, the Logos recalls both the special nature of the Hebrew dabar and that philosophical element which was considered the very sum of the Greek heritage. However, the giving of new meaning to both these terms takes place starting with pros, which alludes to the more particularly Christian dimension of a God who has relations in that He is relation.

Notes 1 Cf. Zachhuber 2019. 2 See, for example, Chadwick 1966; Ivánka 1964; Merki 1952. 3 Cf. Harnack 1901; and, for a specific but particularly significant question, Nygren 1982. 4 Cf. Gnilka 2012. 5 Cf. Benveniste 1969: 209–215. 6 Cf. Ayres 2010: 142–173. 7 Cf. Maspero 2004: 359–373. 8 Cf. Lang 2001. 9 Cf. Tertullian, De carne Christi, 5.4, who would be referring to Aristotle, Rhetoric II. 23.21. For an analysis of the subsequent corruptions of the expression, see Harrison 2017. 10 Cf. Hadot 1995. 11 On the shape of a real authority and of similar texts on the philosophical front, see Cerutti 2012. 12 Cf. Kobusch 2005: 27. 13 Cf. Sodano 1993: 103–116, which records the witness of Lactantius in Divine Institutes V, 2. See, more generally, Frend 1965. 14 Cf. Wiles 1975: 79–80. 15 Cf. Coakley 2013: 116ff., 116ff. 16 A valid reference is still Kattenbusch 1930. 17 Pherecydes, Testimonia II, 11; DK I, p. 44. 18 “Locus supra scenam in quo dii ostendebantur spectatoribus”: s.v. theologeion in Stephanus 1954: c. 298. 19 Cf. Kattenbusch 1930: 166–167. 20 Cf. Pépin 1956. 21 Cf. Jaeger 1947: 10. 22 Philo, Life of Moses, 115.1–2. The expression is repeated in On Rewards and Punishments 53.3 and Quaestiones in Genesim II.59.7 and III.21.1. 23 There is a unique occurrence in a pagan sense in Clementine Homilies 3.5.2.1–3.5.3.1. 24 Justin, Trypho 56.15.1–7. 25 Cf. Clement of Alexandria Protrepticus, 6.72.1. 26 Clement, Stromateis 5.8.46.1.3. 27 Origen, Fragmenta in evangelium Joannis (in catenis) 3, 3 (GCS 10, p. 483). 28 See Gregory of Nazianzen, Oratio 38, 8; Oratio 45  =  Patrologia Graeca 36, 628C and Pseudo-­ Athanasius, Quaestiones aliae, Patrologia Graeca 28, 788A. 29 Cf. Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius 2, 8, 2 e 8, 9, 11 (GNO II, 54, 9 e 242, 1). See also Against Eunomius I.250.4 (GNO I, 100, 3) and Contra Eunomium II.42.1 (GNO I, 238, 9). 30 Cf. Gregory of Nyssa, Contra Eunomium I, 610, 4 (GNO I, 202, 19); Contra Eunomium II, 365, 3 (GNO I, 333, 6) and 389, 6 (GNO I, 339, 27); Contra Eunomium III, 10, 41, 12 (GNO II, 305, 22) and III, 9, 52, 7–9 (GNO II, 283, 21–33); Refutation 105, 3 (GNO II, 356, 7). 135

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3 1 This is linked to the unwritten doctrines, on which see de Vogel 1988. 32 It is significant that Philo himself was described by Clement of Alexandria as “neo-Pythagorean” because of his closeness to Aristobulus the peripatetic, with whom he shared the idea that the Greek metaphysicians had drawn from the Mosaic revelation. Cf. Runia 1995. 33 See Simplicius, In Aristotelis physicorum libros commentaria (Berlin 1892), 9, 181,28–30. 34 Cf. Kahn 2001: 98–99. See also Stead 1996: 152–154. 35 On the dyad in Philo’s thought, see Lévy 2007. 36 Cf. Kahn 2001: 109–110. 37 Numenius, Fragment 14, in Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel 11.18.15–16. 38 Perhaps we have here the roots of Plotinus’s aporia of the soul which has not descended: cf. Chiaradonna 2009: 104. 39 Cf. Porphyry, Sentences 13. 40 Cf. [Porphyry], Commentary on the Parmenides 3.32–4.4 (Sodano 1993: 67). 41 Cf. Mühl 1962; Matelli 1992. 42 Theophilus, To Autolycus 2.22.12–17; Justin, Second Apology 6, 3. 43 Cf. Scheffczyk 1967: 209–209. 44 Cf. Edwards 2002: 53–55. 45 See Pazzini 1999. 46 Cf. Origen, Commentary on John 13.25.151.6–153.8 (SCh 222, p. 114). 47 See the discussion of Jn 4:24 in response to the Stoics according to whom the pneuma was material: cf. ibidem, 13.21.124. 48 Cf. ibidem, 2.23.144 and 146.1–9. The theme is taken up by Philo, On the Sacrifices of Abel and Cain, 5.4–5 and On the Giants 16. 49 Cf. Daniélou 1948: 74–79. 50 Origen, Commentary on John 2.130.1–9. 51 Idem, Fragmenta in evangelium Joannis, 1, 63–67. 52 The texts could be multiplied. See, for example, Idem, Expositio in Proverbia, Patrologia Graeca 17, 185A. 53 Cf. Ramelli 2011. 54 Cf. Origen, First Principles 1.3.7. 55 Cf. Aristotle, Metaphysics 1044a9–11; Topics 115b9–10 and Categories 3b33–4a9. 56 See, e.g., Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius II 165.5–6 and 591.1 (GNO I, 334.18–19 and 398.29) 57 Cf. Porphyry, Isagoge 19.21–20.6; Commentary on Categories 115,1–4; Alexander of Aphrodisias, ­Commentary on the Topici 212,2; 213, 13.15; 362, 10.12.19; 460, 22.27; 461,1.4; 508, 23 and Eustratius, Commentary on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics 47,27–36. 58 Eusebius, On Ecclesiastical Theology 2.14.4.1–5,1 (GCS 14, p. 115). 59 Ibidem, 2.14.21–23,1 (GCS 14, p. 114). 60 It seems that Eunomius had no emanationist notions: see Rist 1981: 185–188. On the origins of ­Eunomius’s thought, see also Batllo 2013. 61 Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, I, 151,1–152,1 e 154, 2–3 (GNO I, 71,28–72,10 and 73, 4–5). 62 Cf. Ibidem, 155, 1 (GNO I, 73,16). 63 Cf. Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius III, 5, 6,7 (GNO II, 162, 11). 64 Idem, Against Eunomius I, 159, 3–5 (GNO I, 75, 3–5). 65 Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius I 232, 5–6 (GNO I, 94,27–95,1). 66 Aristotle, Categories, 8b 21. 67 Gregory of Nyssa, Contra Eunomium III, 6,22: GNO II, 193, 23–26. 68 Idem, Greta Catechetical Oration 1, 73–77. 69 An analogous operation was begun in the Western world by Augustine in the fifth century. His metaphysical arsenal was less developed than Latin Neoplatonism itself. In fact, the tradition of the commentaries on Aristotelian Categories was preserved in rhetoric and dialectic. Cf. G. Maspero, “Relazione e ontologia in Gregorio di Nissa e Agostino”, in Scripta Theologica 47 (2015), 607–641. 70 In a discussion with us, Christian Gnilka pointed out that the very method of chrêsis developed by the Fathers could hark back to the author of the fourth gospel, who in the Prologue itself anticipated such an approach (personal communication).

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Bibliography Ayres, L. O. (2010), Augustine and the Trinity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Batllo, X. (2013), Ontologie scalaire et polémique trinitaire: le subordinatianisme d’Eunome et la distinction ktiston/ aktiston dans le Contre Eunome I de Grégoire de Nysse, Münster: Aschendorff. Benveniste, É. (1969), Le vocabulaire des institutions indo-européennes, Paris: Éditions de Minuit. Cerutti, M. V. (ed.). (2012), Auctoritas: Mondo tardoantico e riflessi contemporanei, Siena: Cantagalli. Chadwick, H. (1966), Early Christian Thought and the Classical Tradition: Studies in Justin Clement and Origen, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Chiaradonna, R. (2009), Plotino, Roma: Carocci. Coakley, S. (2013), God, Sexuality, and the Self: An Essay ‘On the Trinity’, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Daniélou, J. (1948), Origène, Paris: éd. de la Table Ronde. Edwards, M. J. (2002), Origen Against Plato, Farnham: Ashgate. Frend, W. H. C. (1965), Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church: A Study of Conflict from the Maccabees to Donatus, Oxford: Blackwell. Gnilka, C. (2012), Chrêsis: die Methode der Kirchenväter im Umgang mit der antiken Kultur: Der Begriff des “rechten Gebrauchs”, Basel: Schwabe. Hadot, P. (1995), Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault, Oxford: Blackwell. Harnack, A. von (1901), History of Dogma, Boston: Little, Brown and Co. Harrison, P. (2017), “ ‘I Believe Because It Is Absurd’: The Enlightenment Invention of Tertullian’s Credo”, Church History 86, 339–364. Ivánka, E. von (1964), Plato Christianus: Übernahme und Umgestaltung des Platonismus durch die Väter, Einsiedeln: Johannes-Verlag. Jaeger, W. (1943), Humanism and Theology, Milwaukee: Marquette University Press. Jaeger, W. (1947), The Theology of the Early Greek Philosophers, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Kahn, C. H. (2001), Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans: A Brief History, Indianapolis: Hackett. Kattenbusch, F. (1930), “Die Entstehung einer christlichen Theologie. Zur Geschichte der Ausdrücke Theologia, Theologein, Theologos”, Zetschrift für Theologie und Kirche 11, 161–205. Kobusch, T. (2005), “Epoptie. Metaphysik des inneren Menschen”, Quaestio 5, 23–36. Lang, U. M. (2001), John Philoponus and the Controversies Over Chalcedon in the Sixth Century: A Study and Translation of the Arbiter, Leuven: Peeters. Lévy, C. (2007), “La question de la dyade chez Philon d’Alexandrie”, in M. Bonazzi, C. Lèvy and C. Steel (eds.), A Platonic Pythagoras: Platonism and Pythagoreanism in the Imperial Age, Turnhout: Brepols, 11–28. Maspero, G. (2004), “La cristología de Gregorio de Nisa desde la perspectiva del II Concilio de Costantinopla”, Scripta Theologica 36, 359–373. Matelli, E. (1992), “Endiathetos e Prophorikos Logos: Note sulla origine della formula e della nozione”, Aevum 66, 43–70. Merki, H. (1952), Homoiosis Theoi: von der platonischen Angleichung an Gott zur Gottähnlichkeit bei Gregor von Nyssa, Fribourg, SZ: Paulusverlag. Mühl, M. (1962), “Der logos endiathetos und prophorikos von der älteren Stoa bis zur Synode von Sirmium 351”, Archiv für Begriffsgeschichte 7, 7–56. Nygren, A. (1982), Eros and Agape, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Pazzini, D. (1999), “Il prologo di Giovanni in Origene e Gregorio di Nissa”, in W. A. Bienert and U. Kühneweg (eds.), Origeniana septima: Origenes in den Auseinandersetzungen des 4. Jahrhunderts, Leuven: Leuven University Press; Peeters, 497–504. Pépin, J. (1956), “La ‘théologie tripartite’ de Varron”, Revue des Études Augustiniennes 2, 265–294. Ramelli, I. (2011), “The Trinitarian Theology of Gregory of Nyssa in His In Illud: Tunc et ipse Filius: His Polemic Against ‘Arian’ Subordinationism and the Apokatastasis”, in V. H. Drecoll and M. Berghaus (eds.), Gregory of Nyssa: The Minor Treatises on Trinitarian Theology and Apollinarism, Leiden: Brill, 445–478.

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Rist, J. M. (1981), “Basil’s ‘Neoplatonism’: Its Background and Nature”, in P. J. Fedwick (ed.), Basil of Caesarea, Christian, Humanist, Ascetic, Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 137–190. Runia, D. T. (1995), “Why Does Clement of Alexandria Call Philo ‘The Pythagorean’?” Vigiliae Christianae 49, 1–22. Scheffczyk, L. (1967), “La formazione del dogma trinitario nel cristianesimo primitivo”, in J. Feiner and M. Löhrer (Eds.), Mysterium Salutis, III, Brescia: Queriniana. Sodano, A. R. (ed.). (1993), Porfirio: Vangelo di un pagano, Milan: Rusconi. Stead, G. C. (1996), Philosophy in Christian Antiquity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Stephanus, H. (1954), Thesaurus graecae linguae, Graz: Akademische Druck. Vogel, C. J. de (1988), “Plato: The Written and Unwritten Doctrines: Fifty Years of Plato Studies”, in C. J. de Vogel (ed.), Rethinking Plato and Platonism, Leiden: Brill, 3–56. Wiles, M. F. (1975), The Making of Christian Doctrine: A Study in the Principles of Early Doctrinal Development, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Zachhuber, J. (2019), “Philosophy and Theology in Late Antiquity”, in Ken Parry (ed.), Eastern Christianity and Late Antique Philosophy, Leiden: Brill.

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11 The philosophy of the incarnation Dirk Krausmüller

Scope of this chapter This chapter deals primarily with the Late Patristic period, the sixth and seventh centuries, because it was only then that philosophical terms and concepts were regularly used in order to explain the incarnation. The discussion will focus on perceived conceptual problems and on attempts to solve them. Such an approach has the advantage that one can include anonymous texts and thus get a better sense of the dynamics of the debate. It does, however, also have a drawback. It gives no clear idea of the achievement of particular authors who engaged in a whole range of topics. Yet this is less of a problem than it may seem since Patristic theologians rarely constructed coherent theological edifices. Much more often they reproduced arguments that they had taken from earlier texts even if they contradicted each other.

The early Christological discourse In the first half of the fifth century, a controversy broke out between the patriarchs of Constantinople and Alexandria, Nestorius and Cyril, about how one should conceptualise the incarnation. The two men represented radically different theological traditions. Nestorius harked back to Diodore of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia, whereas Cyril took his inspiration from Athanasius and, although he was unaware of it, also from Apollinarius of Laodicea. For Nestorius, the Word born from the Father and the flesh born from Mary were two sons, which were united in will and honour. By contrast, Cyril insisted that there was only one son and that one must therefore call Mary God-bearer.1 In order to make his position intelligible, Cyril had recourse to two explanatory models. Firstly, he declared that the preexisting Word assumed the flesh and made it his own. Secondly, he compared the incarnated Word with the human being as a compound of body and soul.2 There is no doubt that Cyril would have preferred to leave it at that. Yet Nestorius’ arguments forced him to employ more formal language. Nestorius used the terms ‘nature’ and ‘hypostasis’ interchangeably and applied them both to the Word and to the flesh. For him, each carrier of a set of qualities, which defined a species, was automatically a separate being.3 Cyril, whose Christology required the incarnated Word to be one, could not accept this conceptual framework. He denied that the incarnated Word was one nature in the 139

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sense of one single set of qualities. In a second step, he then tried to explain how one could nevertheless predicate the two sets of qualities of the one incarnated Word. In his refutations of Nestorius’ arguments, he frequently spoke of hypostasis instead of nature. This term played an important role in Trinitarian theology, where it denoted the separate being of Father, Son and Spirit. Cyril appears to have used the term in the same sense when he spoke of the one hypostasis of the Word, which had become incarnate and of a union of Word and flesh according to hypostasis. Yet his terminology was not consistent. When he envisaged a case where two hypostases were confused, he evidently used ‘hypostasis’ not in the sense of separate being but in the sense of carrier of a set of qualities.4 Moreover, he continued to employ the term ‘nature’ in the sense of separate being, speaking of the one nature of the Word that had become incarnate and of a union according to nature.5 A clear distinction between the two concepts was made only at the Council of Chalcedon, where it was decreed that ‘nature’ should be used exclusively for the carrier of a set of qualities and ‘hypostasis’ should be used exclusively for the separate being. Yet no attempt was made to establish coherence with Trinitarian theology. When the Council of Chalcedon spoke of hypostasis, it did not consider the Cappadocian teaching that hypostasis was established through characteristic idioms. Even more striking is the fact that neither Cyril nor his adversaries nor the Council of Chalcedon made use of contemporary philosophy in order to clarify their positions. This is in stark contrast to the controversy between the Cappadocians and Eunomius of Cyzicus. This discrepancy can be seen very clearly in the writings of Cyril. When Cyril discussed the Trinity, he used a wide variety of philosophical terms and concepts.6 By contrast, his Christological oeuvre is free from such elements. A case in point is his contention that the divine Word made the flesh his own. It has been claimed that this argument was inspired by philosophical texts where the term ‘proper’ plays an important role.7 Yet it seems more likely that Cyril followed the lead of Athanasius, who had declared that the Son was the Father’s own.8

The irruption of Aristotelian philosophy into the Christological discourse The decades that followed the Council of Chalcedon were a fallow period in Patristic theology. Authors bandied about the slogans ‘one nature and one hypostasis’, ‘two natures and two hypostases’, and ‘two natures and one hypostasis’, but made no attempt to establish the precise meaning of the two key terms. Change came only in the early sixth century when a controversy broke out between a Chalcedonian teacher of grammar, John of Caesarea, and the Monophysite patriarch Severus of Antioch. John imported into the Christological discourse the distinction between nature and hypostasis on which the Cappadocians had built their Trinitarian theology, whereas Severus turned to Cyril’s writings in order to show that the two terms were synonymous.9 Both men had a good knowledge of the theological tradition but did not engage with the contemporary philosophical discourse. It did not, however, take long before this further step was taken. One of Severus’ contemporaries, the Syrian Sergius, constructed a Monophysite Christology on the basis of Aristotelian concepts. A few decades later, another Monophysite, the Alexandrian John Philoponus, followed suit. Both authors saw philosophy in a very positive light. Sergius claimed that one could learn much from Aristotle on whom he bestowed the laudatory epithet ‘the Mind’,10 whereas Philoponus averred that the debates about Christology had only arisen because the participants had not received sufficient philosophical training.11 It is surely significant that like John of Caesarea, Sergius and Philoponus were teachers at secular schools. Their shared profession evidently made them receptive to philosophical reasoning, even though only Philoponus can be considered a true philosopher. Severus’ letters 140

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to Sergius and the response to Philoponus’ speculation shows that most Monophysite prelates did not take kindly to the challenge to their position as the official interpreters of the Christian faith.12 Yet they found it difficult to silence the teachers effectively because they were used to supporting their views through florilegia of Patristic texts and did not have the wherewithal to construct philosophical arguments.13 Severus sought to defend the autonomy of the theological discourse, but this was a lost cause since the dynamics of the debate led to an ever greater reliance on philosophy. Sergius only turned to Aristotle after discussions with the Chalcedonians had convinced him that traditional Monophysite Christology was contradictory.14 Philoponus, on the other hand, put pressure on his Chalcedonian counterparts. Their exasperation finds its expression in a treatise by Theodore of Raithou, which dates to the late sixth century. There we are told that it would have been better not to have recourse to philosophy at all but that this was no longer possible because the Monophysites would not accept arguments that were not derived from Aristotle’s works.15 This does not, however, mean that there were no speculative theologians in the Chalcedonian church. Already in the second quarter of the sixth century Leontius of Byzantium combined the Cappadocian framework with concepts taken from Aristotelian commentaries. Unlike John of Caesarea, Leontius was not a city-dwelling teacher but a member of a monastic community in the Palestinian countryside. His penchant for speculative thought was unusual for monks of the time. It explains itself when we consider that Leontius belonged to a group that devoted themselves to the study of the writings of Origen and Evagrius.16 This background would have prepared him for his theological activity, although one must be careful not to posit too close a link. The main source of inspiration for Origen and Evagrius had been Plato, whereas in the Christological discourse Aristotle played a predominant role. A similar background can be assumed for three further authors who flourished in the later sixth and seventh centuries: Pamphilus, Leontius of Jerusalem and Maximus the Confessor. These men showed greater aptitude at constructing coherent arguments than did Chalcedonian bishops such as Eutychius of Constantinople or Anastasius of Antioch, who do not seem to have received formal training. Yet we cannot be certain that the Chalcedonian contribution was confined to the Palestinian Origenist milieu because a great number of texts have not come down to us. A  voluminous Christological treatise by the metropolitan Heraclianus of Chalcedon, which employed Aristotelian concepts, is only known to us from short excerpts.17 Often we do not even have this much information. The handbooks of Pamphilus and Theodore of Raithou and the letters of Maximus contain definitions of key terms, which are taken from now-lost earlier sources, whose authors are not identified. This poses problems for the interpretation because such definitions are not merely ripped out of context but also often misunderstood. Even less is known about the Nestorian contribution to the debate. All we have is a treatise from the late sixth century, which has survived because it was refuted by Leontius of Jerusalem. Analysis of this text shows that Aristotle had also become an authority in Nestorian circles.18

Assumption vs. composition Despite their disagreements, Severus of Antioch and John of Caesarea accepted Cyril’s teaching that the Word assumed the flesh and made it his own. Yet this model had a serious drawback. It implied that the flesh was nothing more than a property that acceded to the substance of the Word.19 The problems came to the surface when theologians began to have recourse to philosophical terms and concepts. The first step was taken by the Monophysite Sergius the Grammarian, who sought to find a place for the incarnation within the framework of the arbor Porphyriana. The argument is rather confused since Sergius compares the Word once with the 141

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highest genus and once with the lowest species. Yet even so, it is clear that the participle ‘incarnated’ has become a specific difference.20 Greater coherence was achieved by the Chalcedonian theologian Leontius of Jerusalem, who argued that the idiom ‘begotten’ of the divine Son should be understood as a substantial quality of the divinity, analogous with ‘rational’ in the case of the human being, whereas ‘becoming incarnate’ should be compared with the acquisition of a profession such as ‘musician’, which is a separable accident.21 This understanding of the incarnation, however, does not seem to have been very popular in the sixth century, no doubt because it was felt that it did not do justice to Christ’s humanity. Indeed, it was explicitly rejected by Leontius of Byzantium, who insisted that the Word and the flesh must not be conceptualised as a substance and a set of substantial qualities that completes it.22 Leontius of Byzantium then proceeded to propose an alternative model. He argued that the incarnation was a coming together of two entities, which were complete substances but existed only in conjunction with one another, and he gave as an example soul and body, which together constitute the human being. In this model, the incarnation is understood as a composition of the flesh with the Word. This was, of course, also good Cyrillian teaching. Yet it was now turned against the equally Cyrillian model of an assumption of the flesh into the Word. Leontius of Byzantium’s recourse to the traditional anthropological paradigm amounted to a conscious rejection of attempts to situate the incarnation within an overarching ontological framework. Later Chalcedonian theologians were not satisfied with this solution. In the writings of Patriarch Anastasius of Antioch, mention is made of a threefold distinction of being: ‘being by itself ’, ‘being with something else’ and ‘being in something else’.23 The first and the last case correspond to the Aristotelian concepts of primary substance and accident. By contrast, ‘being with something else’ is an innovation. It is arguable that this framework is derived from philosophical texts where ‘being by itself ’, ‘being for the sake of something else’ and ‘being in something else’ are mentioned side by side.24 By replacing ‘being for the sake of something else’ with ‘being with something else’, a new category was created, which applied to two cases, soul and body in the human being, and divinity and humanity in the incarnation. Thus a way was found out of an ontological straightjacket that only recognised two forms of being, substance and accident. The concept of composition triumphed at the fifth Ecumenical Council when the formula of the ‘one composite hypostasis’ was enshrined in dogma.25 Yet it quickly fell from grace. This is perhaps not surprising when one considers how unsuitable it is. Soul and body constitute the human being. Applied to the incarnation, this would mean that the Word and the flesh also form a new entity. Leontius of Byzantium makes such a distinction, calling the compound ‘Christ’ as opposed to the divine ‘Word’ or ‘Son’.26 Yet in the seventh century, Chalcedonians such as Leontius of Jerusalem and Maximus the Confessor insisted that the result of the composition must be identical with one of the components. According to them, the incarnation was a special type of composition, which had nothing in common with composition in the created order.27 This development was at least in part caused by changes in the understanding of what the human being is. Cyril had thought that it was first and foremost the soul whereas the body was only an instrument.28 In the sixth century, Philoponus held a similar view.29 Yet at that time, it was not the only anthropology available. Others insisted that the soul could not function without the body. This view had antecedents in Syriac Christianity but may also have been influenced by Aristotle’s teachings.30 The Nestorians used it to launch a frontal attack on the concept of composition. They declared that if the Word were subjected to the ‘law of compound beings’, he would be dependent on the flesh.31 This relentless polemic had its effect. Whereas Leontius of Byzantium had still believed that he could defend the anthropological paradigm, Maximus saw it as a liability and excluded it from his theological model.32 The Monophysites who used the formula ‘one composite nature’ also came under attack. Indeed, 142

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the anonymous Nestorian author refuted by Leontius of Jerusalem criticises both formulae, refusing to acknowledge a difference between them.

Monadic species – monadic hypostasis Following Cyril of Alexandria, Severus insisted that in the Christological discourse the term ‘nature’ denoted the concrete individual.33 For this he was taken to task by the Chalcedonian theologian Heraclianus, who pointed out that such usage was at odds not only with Cappadocian Trinitarian theology, where nature equals species, but also with Aristotelian philosophy, where the term ‘nature’ is never used to denote the concrete individual.34 In order to rebut this criticism, an unknown Monophysite author had recourse to the concept of monadikon, which had a respectable philosophical pedigree.35 He claimed that the incarnated Word was indeed a species but that this species was instantiated only once, just as there was only one sun. This argument was rejected by another Chalcedonian theologian, Leontius of Byzantium, who declared that in the created order each species had many members – even the sun was a hypostasis within the species of stars – and that the concept of monadikon was therefore a chimera.36 A century later, this argument was faithfully reproduced by Maximus the Confessor, who insisted that nature always presupposed a multitude, and thus concluded that the incarnated Word could not be a nature because no other incarnated Words existed.37 Yet this does not mean that all Chalcedonian theologians thought alike. Pamphilus, Patriarch Eutychius and Leontius of Jerusalem compared Christ to the sun or the sky, thus effectively adopting the Monophysite position, with the only difference that they spoke of monadic hypostasis instead of monadic nature.38 It is not difficult to see why the three authors took this step. According to Cappadocian teaching, one could only speak of hypostases if there was also a species to which they belonged. This, however, was not the case with the incarnated Word. As Leontius of Byzantium pointed out, Christ as the composite of a divine and a human nature was neither like the Father and the Spirit nor like other human beings. This problem was seen clearly by a Nestorian theologian who demanded from the defenders of Chalcedon that they demonstrate through comparable cases in created being whether such a scenario was possible. Put on the defensive, Chalcedonian theologians took drastic steps. Patriarch Eutychius claimed that even in creation there were at the beginning only monadic hypostases, which then multiplied and in this way constituted species. Leontius of Jerusalem maintained that one should disregard the distinction between beings of the same nature and beings of different natures and only consider numerical difference between hypostases. Christ’s species-less hypostasis thus became the blueprint for a radical deconstruction of the traditional framework of genera and species.

Natural properties without substance? Whereas Severus of Antioch declared that the incarnated Word was one nature but had two different sets of natural qualities, John of Caesarea insisted that there were as many natures as sets of natural qualities. He did not, however, content himself with restating the traditional Chalcedonian position. He introduced into the Christological discourse the concept of ‘substance’ that the Cappadocians had employed in their writings about the Trinity. This was a tactical masterstroke. The Cappadocians had equated substance with the account of being or definition common to all members of a species, such as ‘rational mortal animal’ in the case of the human being, and they had used substance in this sense interchangeably with nature. The Monophysites who acknowledged the existence of two different sets of natural qualities in the incarnated Word would thus also have to acknowledge two substances and as a consequence 143

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also two natures.39 This argument caused great discomfort to Severus. He rejected the notion that there was only one substance in the incarnated Word because he believed that this would result in confusion, but he was not prepared to admit that there were two substances because he was afraid that his enemies would then conclude that he also accepted the two natures of the formula of Chalcedon.40 The subsequent inner-Monophysite debate reveals that this was not a satisfactory solution. Sergius the Grammarian spelt out the problem. The existence of separate sets of natural properties presupposes the existence of separate substances. If there are two distinct sets of properties in the incarnated Word, then there must be two substances and therefore also two natures. In his response to Sergius’ letters, Patriarch Severus reiterated the traditional Monophysite position. Yet he could not stifle the debate. A few decades later, it was continued by John Philoponus. Unlike Severus, but like Sergius, he characterised the incarnated Word not only as ‘one nature’ but also as ‘one substance’.41 Moreover, he tacitly dropped the traditional teaching of two distinct sets of natural properties. He declared that the existence of a single substance is indicated by a single account of being or definition and added that this was not only true for the human being as ‘a rational and mortal living being’ but also for Christ as ‘God incarnate’.42 Yet this does not mean that he was an advocate of confusion. Using an example from created being, he declared that the single substance of the apple had various qualities, such as sweetness and heaviness, which were not confounded since only properties belonging to the same genus such as sweetness and bitterness could change into each other. From this he concluded that the properties of divinity and humanity, which are radically different from one another, could also not suffer confusion.43 In addition, he found a way to rebut the Chalcedonian criticism that in the one nature the substance of the humanity seemed to disappear. He simply denied that substance was an entity that differed from substantial qualities. This he could do because he proposed a new interpretation of the term ‘substance’. He argued that each property taken by itself was not a substance but that the ‘compound (synkrima) of all properties was a substance’.44 It is possible that he took his inspiration from Plotinus, who had defined sensible substance in a very similar manner as a ‘conglomeration’ (symphoresis) of properties.45 Philoponus was condemned as a heretic by the Monophysite episcopate. Yet the debate continued. In the late sixth century, the sophist Stephen of Niobe also claimed that there was one set of properties just as there was one substance. Stephen found a follower in the pious layman Probus. Yet their association did not last long since Probus then made a volte-face and accepted the existence of two natures and two sets of natural properties. For him, it was then only logical to join the Chalcedonian church.46

Substance without hypostatic properties? The Chalcedonians wrestled with conceptual problems of their own. Unlike the Monophysites, they believed that the flesh remained a separate nature even after the union with the Word. Yet they denied that it was a second hypostasis beside the Word, which would have given it concrete and separate existence. This distinction was rejected both by Nestorians and by Monophysites who insisted that a nature, which was not at the same time a hypostasis, was simply inexistent.47 Matters were complicated even further when John of Caesarea adapted for the Christological discourse the framework that the Cappadocians had devised for the Trinity. According to Cappadocian teaching, a hypostasis came into existence so-to-speak automatically when a bundle of accidents was added to the set of substantial properties that was common to all members of a species. John had to avoid such a scenario at all costs if he did not wish to be branded a Nestorian. His solution was to deny that the nature of the flesh was endowed with individual characteristics. This allowed him to argue that the flesh only gained concrete 144

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existence through assumption into the Word, which already had a hypostasis of its own through the idiom of ‘begottenness’.48 A similar argument appears in Leontius of Byzantium’s treatise Contra Nestorianos et Eutychianos. Leontius declared that through his characteristic idiom the Word differed from the consubstantial Father but did not make the analogous statement that through its characteristic idioms the flesh differed from consubstantial human beings. Instead he juxtaposed other human beings with Christ as the compound of Word and flesh.49 Here we are clearly to understand that the flesh has no characteristic idioms, which could serve as distinguishing marks. Such a view was, however, difficult to defend. It flew in the face of Biblical accounts of Jesus’ life where he appears as a full-fledged individual. Moreover, it seemed to throw into question the reality of the incarnation. This point was made very clearly by an anonymous Nestorian author who claimed that a secondary substance when abstracted from its substrate, the concrete individual, was nothing more than an empty concept.50 The Chalcedonians could not simply argue that the flesh gained hypostasis in and through the Word because such a position was roundly rejected by their adversaries. Therefore, they had to find a way in which they could show that the human nature itself had a reality of its own even though it was not individualised. At the same time, they had to make sure that this reality fell short of the concrete and separate existence of the hypostasis. In order to make their case, they turned to philosophical texts. Yet they had great difficulties in finding a suitable concept. This is not surprising because Aristotle’s ontology differed greatly from that of the Cappadocians. The problems surface in Theodore of Raithou’s treatise Praeparatio, which explains to a Christian audience the meaning of philosophical concepts.51 There ‘substance’ is not the secondary substance, as it would have been demanded by the Cappadocian framework, but the primary substance, which is defined as that which ‘exists by itself ’ and ‘does not need something outside of itself for its existence’, features that are also mentioned in Aristotelian commentaries.52 Theodore does not spell out the Christological implications of such a concept. Yet it is clear that it becomes a rival for the Cappadocian term ‘hypostasis’, which is also said to ‘exist by itself ’. Indeed, in his subsequent discussion of the term ‘hypostasis’, Theodore gives the impression as if the bundles of accidents that are found in primary substances were little more than an extrinsic décor, which did not change the ontological status of the substrate. The obvious conclusion is that the human ‘substance’ in Christ is already a hypostasis in all but name. Other authors were more careful in their adaptation of Aristotelian concepts.53 Some sought to solve the problem by adapting the traditional distinction between two meanings of ­‘substance’ – primary substance as opposed to accidents, and simple existence, which also includes ­accidents  – through replacement of the Aristotelian term ‘primary substance’ with ‘hypostasis’. Their argument, however, was ineffectual. Even after the modification, ‘substance’ in the sense of simple existence did not become the desired intermediary category of being but remained an overarching concept that encompassed both hypostasis and accident. A much more complex explanation is found in Leontius of Byzantium’s treatise Contra Nestorianos et Eutychianos.54 Leontius’s starting point was an already existing argument, which targeted the axiom that a nature, which is not a hypostasis, was anhypostatos, that is, inexistent. It was claimed that the correct antonym of hypostasis was not anhypostatos but enhypostatos, that is, existent. This was, of course, little more than a play with words. Leontius clearly considered it insufficient because he proceeded to offer a definition of enhypostaton, which he equated with ‘substance’. According to him, it is something that ‘is not an accident, which has its being in something else and is not perceived in itself ’.55 From this statement, one might conclude that he identifies the enhypostaton with the Aristotelian primary substance.56 If this were the case, he would have fallen into the same trap as Theodore of Raithou. Yet this is by no means 145

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certain. Leontius states that the enhypostaton is a thing that ‘exists’ and not a thing that ‘exists by itself ’, which would clearly identify it as a primary substance. Moreover, he counts as accidents not only non-substantial but also substantial qualities. Primary substances, however, cannot be juxtaposed with substantial qualities because they are part of their makeup. One might therefore conclude that Leontius’ reasoning is muddled. Yet this seems unlikely since he has an exceptionally good knowledge of philosophical terms and concepts. Elsewhere he states clearly that substantial qualities are constitutive of substances.57 A much better philosophical counterpart for the enhypostaton is the unqualified ‘second substrate’, to which the substantial qualities are added and together with which they form the ‘first substrate’, the primary substance. If we accept that this was Leontius’ starting point, we also understand how he could refer to substantial qualities as accidents. In his commentary on the Categories, Philoponus explains that ‘the qualities which accrue to the body, that is, the second substrate, are accidents insofar as they accrue to it in its unqualified state’.58 There is only one discrepancy. The philophers identified the second substrate with matter, whereas Leontius spoke of ‘existence’. He may have taken this step because he wished to apply his model to the immaterial Word as well. It is evident that the enhypostaton is an addition to the Cappadocian framework, which only recognised common and individual properties. The immediately following passage is more traditional. Here nature is equated with the account of being that establishes ‘being’, and hypostasis is equated with the individual characteristics that establish ‘being by itself ’. Yet it seems likely that here, too, we need to add the enhypostaton as a third element. The advantage of such a conceptual framework is immediately evident. It can now be argued that the flesh, which is not endowed with hypostatic idioms and therefore does not exist ‘by itself ’, nevertheless had a degree of reality, because the account of being, which when seen by itself is a mere abstraction, inheres in ‘existence’ as a substrate.59 Leontius of Byzantium was not the only author who modified the Cappadocian framework. In the doctrinal florilegium Doctrina Patrum, we find an excerpt from the Christological treatise of Leontius’ contemporary Heraclianus of Chalcedon.60 Heraclianus starts by distinguishing four meanings of the term ‘substance’. He explains that it can refer to ‘matter’, to ‘form’, to the ‘compound (synamphoteron) of matter and form’, and also to incorporeal being. This distinction is borrowed from the philosophical discourse. In Asclepius’ commentary on Metaphysics A–Z, for example, we read that ‘substance’ is used in four different senses: ‘matter’, ‘form’, the ‘composite’ and ‘the universal, which is seen in many’.61 In a second step, Heraclianus then correlates the first three of these concepts with Cappadocian terminology. He declares that ‘form’ corresponds to ‘nature’, the ‘compound with idioms’ corresponds to ‘hypostasis’, and ‘matter’ corresponds to ‘substance’. Heraclianus’ argument is quite convoluted. Nevertheless, it is obvious that with matter he has added a new element to the original Cappadocian framework. Accordingly, ‘substance’ is no longer synonymous with ‘nature’. Unfortunately, the excerpt does not include the Christological application. Yet one notices that Heraclianus avoids speaking of the compound tout court. By claiming that it is always endowed with characteristic idioms, he makes sure that it does not become a rival for hypostasis. It is less clear why he introduced matter. It is possible that he, too, wished to ground the account of being in a substrate that gave it a higher degree of reality. This dimension is much more obvious in the handbook of Pamphilus.62 Pamphilus begins by claiming that the Cappadocians had used ‘substance’ and ‘nature’ interchangeably. Yet then he declares that when one looks more closely, one can discern a difference between the two terms: ‘substance’ is pure existence, whereas ‘nature’ is qualified existence. Pure existence is then identified with the highest genus of the arbor Porphyriana, whereas qualified existence is likened to Porphyry’s ‘most proper difference’, that is, specific difference, such as ‘rational’ in the case of 146

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the human being. In addition, he uses the curious formula ‘the qualified existence for everyone’ (he poia to panti hyparxis), which may be adapted from a passage in Aristotle’s Posterior analytics, where we find the formula ‘whatever exists for every living being’ (poia panti zoo hyparchei).63 Pamphilus excerpted this argument from an older text but omitted the Christological application because he was only interested in definitions of terms. It seems likely, however, that the author of Pamphilus’ source sought to elide the intermediate genera and species so that the specific difference of the lowest species, the account of a human being, was directly juxtaposed with the highest genus, which bestowed reality on it. Leontius of Byzantium, Heraclianus and Pamphilus made use of a wide range of philosophical concepts. Nevertheless, it is obvious that they engaged in the same discourse. They accepted that the common humanity when considered in abstraction had no reality outside the human mind. Yet they argued that the flesh was nevertheless existent because in each individual the account of being was grounded in a substrate, either ‘existence’ or ‘matter’ or the highest genus, which gave it reality even though it did not possess hypostatic idioms. This does not mean that all Chalcedonian theologians modified the Cappadocian framework. Patriarch Anastasius of Antioch, for example, declared that the Word had assumed the common humanity, seemingly without being aware of the conceptual problems. Yet even his writings show the influence of the new discourse. Once, he defines ‘substance’ not as the lowest species but as the highest genus.64

Redefining hypostasis Such complex arguments were not to everybody’s taste. Some theologians sought to solve the problem by redefining the relationship between nature and hypostasis. They declared that the addition of individual characteristics to a common account of being did yet not result in a hypostasis. For them concrete and separate existence was only established in a further step, ‘hypostasisation’, which added no further ‘content’ to the already individualised being. This argument, which is preseved in the writings of Maximus the Confessor and John of Damascus, is of dubious value.65 A much sounder conceptual framework was set out by Leontius of Byzantium. In his late treatise Solutiones, he conceded to his Monophysite interlocutor that the flesh had indeed characteristic idioms. Yet he then added that these idioms distinguished the flesh not from the Word but from other human beings.66 This point of view is the result of a deeper engagement with the Cappadocian understanding of hypostasis. Accidents can only distinguish beings that belong to the same species because they can only be identified as such through distinction from a common set of natural properties. Significantly, the same argument is found in the writings of the Monophysite Philoponus, who stressed that there were two bounded sets of hypostatic idioms in the incarnated Word.67 There is only one difference between the two authors. Leontius argued that the flesh could even have existed before the union with the flesh without endangering the oneness of Christ, a position that other authors regarded as typically Nestorian.68 Philoponus, on the other hand, explicitly denied such a possibility. Even so, he was attacked by an anonymous Chalcedonian author who declared that the existence of a bounded set of individual human characteristics turned the flesh into a hypostasis within the hypostasis of the Word.69 This was a problem that bedevilled several Chalcedonian theologians. Leontius of Jerusalem declared that the characteristic idioms of Word and flesh did not constitute bounded sets but were mingled so that the individual traits of his humanity distinguished Christ from the Father and the characteristic idiom ‘begottenness’ distinguished him from other human beings. Thus he effectively brought about a confusion of hypostatic idioms while at the same time insisting that the two natures remain 147

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separate. John of Damascus’ solution is even more ingenious. He observed that it was impossible to distinguish between natural and hypostatic idioms when one compared two beings that belong to different species, and he concluded that in this case the hypostatic idioms must be treated as if they were natural idioms. Thus the unity of Christ was safeguarded because in Chalcedonian Christology there are two sets of natural idioms, those of the humanity and those of the divinity.

Universal nature vs. particular nature For Monophysites and Chalcedonians, Christology was closely related to soteriology. It had to be shown that the benefits of the incarnation were passed on to other human beings. John of Caesarea’s solution was to claim that the Word assumed the entire human nature. Severus ridiculed this argument. He declared that Christ would then have incarnated in all human beings, including Judas and Caiaphas. This was evidently not what John had in mind. Yet his counterargument is rather surprising. He explained that the Word assumed the entire account of being, that is, all qualities that constitute a human being, and not just part of it.70 One would instead have expected him to state that there was an ontological link between the flesh and other human beings, which made the human nature one. That John dodged this issue suggests that he could not explain how such a link might function. Later Chalcedonian authors, such as Anastasius of Antioch, made equally unsatisfactory statements.71 By then, the Nestorians had joined the attack. One of their number claimed that the universal human being, which the Word supposedly assumed, could either be the sum-total of all human beings, or the account of humanity, which only existed in the human mind.72 In the face of this criticism, Chalcedonians could not uphold their traditional position. As has already been pointed out, they introduced a particular substrate – matter or existence – in which the universal was grounded. By taking this step, however, they had already accepted that natures could be particular. Thus it is not surprising that later authors, such as Leontius of Jerusalem, acknowledged the existence of particular natures, even though they then found it difficult to explain the soteriological effects of the incarnation.73 Among the Monophysites, it was John Philoponus who constructed a philosophically sound framework. Taking his cue from Aristotle’s De anima, he contended that human beings were particular natures, even before they received characteristic idioms, while the common humanity was an empty concept, which could not bind together the individuals.74 Interestingly, this view became quite popular among Chalcedonian theologians. Theodore of Raithou, the author of the Doctrina Patrum, and John of Damascus claimed that in the created order, species were one in name only.75 Others were not prepared to go so far. In his Solutiones, Leontius of Byzantium conceded that the Word assumed a particular nature but then added that this nature was the same as that of other human beings. Leontius used the example of whiteness and that which is whitened to illustrate the difference between the account of being in abstraction and the account of being in a particular individual. It has therefore been argued that for him not only substances but also qualities were universals and that his understanding of ‘individual nature’ differed from that of Philoponus’ ‘particular nature’.76 Yet it is by no means certain that the example was part of the argument. It may have been nothing but a general illustration without relevance for the argument. Later Chalcedonian authors denied that the nature in an individual was either common but an abstraction or real but particular. They claimed that that it was a universal that had been individuated through characteristic idioms.77 It is, however, questionable whether one can speak of individuation as a process since it was agreed that the non-individuated universal had no reality of its own. 148

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The limits of the discourse At this point we can conclude that theologians of the sixth and seventh centuries regularly made use of philosophical texts. They scoured Aristotelian commentaries for terms and concepts that would help them to support their Christological positions. Yet these terms and concepts were ripped out of context. No author was interested in philosophy for its own sake. No attempt was made to construct a coherent ontological framework on the basis of philosophical speculation. One casualty of this approach was divine transcendence. Leontius of Byzantium declared that God and the human being must have the same highest genus because otherwise one could not use the same terminology in both cases.78 Pamphilus disagreed, stressing the incomparability of God in the language of Pseudo-Dionysius. Yet even he treated the Word and the flesh as analogous cases when he made positive statements about the incarnation.79

Notes 1 See Van Loon 2009: 205–220. 2 See Van Loon 2009: 544–545, with earlier literature. 3 See Grillmeier 1975: 358–359. 4 See Van Loon 2009: 518–530, with discussion of earlier secondary literature. 5 See Van Loon 2009: 507–509, 512–517. 6 See Van Loon 2009: 61–122. 7 See Siddals 1987: 355–356.R 8 See Van Loon 2009: 185–189, 517–518. 9 See Grillmeier and Hainthaler 1995: 54–61. 10 Sergius, Letter III, tr. Torrance 1988: 207. 11 John Philoponus, Arbiter, 1, tr. Lang 2001: 173. 12 Severus, Letter III, tr. Torrance 1988: 214–226. 13 See Gray 1989. 14 Sergius, Letter I, tr. Torrance 1988: 143. 15 Theodore of Raithou, Praeparatio, ed. Diekamp 1938: 185–222, esp. 198–200. 16 See Daley 2017: 1–25. 17 Grillmeier and Hainthaler 1995: 248–251. 18 See Krausmüller 2001. 19 Cyril can say that the humanity ‘accedes’ (symbebêke) to the divine Word; see Siddals 1987: 356. 20 Sergius, Letter III, tr. Torrance 1988: 208. 21 For the following, see Krausmüller 2017a, esp. 641–642. 22 Leontius of Byzantium, Contra Nestorianos et Eutychianos, tr. Daley 2017: 135. 23 For the following, see Krausmüller 2017b. 24 See e.g. John Philoponus, In Aristotelis analytica posteriora commentaria (CAG 13.3, Berlin, 1898), 63. 25 Grillmeier and Hainthaler, Christ in Christian Tradition, 2/2, 447. 26 Leontius of Byzantium, Contra Nestorianos et Eutychianos, tr. Daley 2017: 148. 27 Maximus the Confessor, Epistula 13, PG 91, 529; Leontius of Jerusalem, Contra Nestorianos I.52, PG 86, 1524. 28 See Edwards 2015, esp. 296. 29 John Philoponus, Arbiter, 4, tr. Lang 2001: 176. 30 See e.g. Martikainen 1986. 31 See Krausmüller 2005. 32 Maximus the Confessor, Epistula 13 = Patrologia Graeca 91, 529. See L. Thunberg, Microcosm and Mediator: The Theological Anthropology of Maximus the Confessor (Lund, 1965), 100–112. 33 See Zachhuber 2013, esp. 459–461. 34 F. Diekamp 1907: 42–44. 35 See Adamson 2013. 36 Leontius of Byzantium, Solutiones, tr. Daley 2017: 285. 37 Maximus the Confessor, Letter 13 = Patrologia Graeca 91, 520. 38 For the following see Krausmüller 2014. 149

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3 9 Grillmeier and Hainthaler 1995: 52–56. 40 Grillmeier and Hainthaler 1995: 59–61. 41 John Philoponus, Arbiter, 15, tr. Lang 2001: 186. 42 John Philoponus, Arbiter, 20, tr. Lang 2001: 189–190. 43 John Philoponus, Arbiter, 38, tr. Lang 2001: 204–205. 44 John Philoponus, Arbiter, 41, tr. Lang 2001: 209. Cf. the Greek fragment 12, 228–229. 45 Plotinus, Enneads 6.3 [44] 8 (19–37), translated by Sorabji 2005: 272. 46 Hainthaler 2004. 47 See Erismann 2010. 48 See Grillmeier and Hainthaler 1995: 60–61. 49 Leontius of Byzantium, Contra Nestorianos et Eutychianos, tr. Daley 2017: 147. See also Gleede 2012: 136. 50 Leontius of Jerusalem, Contra Nestorianos, II.6 = Patrologia Graeca 86, 1544. 51 On the following, see Krausmüller 2011a, esp. 153–157. 52 Asclepii in Aristotelis metaphysicorum libros A–Z commentaria, ed. G. Kroll and M. Hayduck (CAG, 6.2; Berlin, 1888), 264. 53 See Krausmüller 2011a: 160–164. 54 For the following, see Krausmüller 2011b. See also the differing intepretations of Gleede 2012: 65–66; Shchukin 2016: 308–321. 55 Leontius of Byzantium, Contra Nestorianos et Eutychianos, tr. Daley, 133. 56 See Uthemann 1997, esp. 98–99. 57 Leontius of Byzantium, Daley, text. 58 Philoponi (olim Ammonii) in Aristotelis categorias commentarium, ed. A. Busse (CAG 13.1, Berlin, 1898), 65. 59 Leontius also speaks of a ‘universal thing’, which gives the impression as if he accepted the reality of universals. This may be an inconsistency. See however Krausmüller 2011b: 22. 60 For the following, see D. Krausmüller 2011a: 157–160. 61 Asclepius, In Aristotelis metaphysicorum libros A–Z commentaria, ed. G. Kroll and M. Hayduck (CAG VI.2, Berlin, 1888), p. 447. 62 For the following, see Krausmüller forthcoming. 63 See Aristotle, Analytica posteriora, 14, tr. Barnes 1984: 162. 64 See Krausmüller forthcoming. 65 Zachhuber 2013: 468–469. 66 Leontius of Byzantium, Solutiones, tr. Daley, 273. 67 John Philoponus, Arbiter, ed. Diekamp, Doctrina Patrum, 280–281. Compare Arbiter, 26, tr. Lang, 193–194. 68 Leontius of Byzantium, Solutiones, tr. Daley, 307. 69 For the following, see Krausmüller forthcoming in Scrinium. 70 See Zachhuber 2013: 461. 71 See Zachhuber 2013: 458. 72 Leontius of Jerusalem, Contra Nestorianos, II.6 = Patrologia Graeca 86, 1544. 73 See Krausmüller 2017a: 638. 74 See Zachhuber 2013: 462–466; Erismann 2008, esp. 285–291. 75 See Krausmüller 2015. 76 See Leontius of Byzantium, Solutiones, tr. Daley 2017: 279, with Cross 2002, esp. 255–256. 77 Rashed 2007: 367. 78 Leontius of Byzantium, Solutiones, tr. Daley 2017: 279. 79 See Krausmüller 2017a: 633–634.

Bibliography Adamson, P. (2013), “One of a Kind: Plotinus and Porphyry on Unique Instantiation”, in R. Chiaradonna and G. Galluzzo (ed.), Universals in Ancient Philosophy, Pisa: Edizioni della Normale, 329–351. Barnes, J. (ed.). (1984), The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

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Cross, R. (2002), “Individual Natures in the Christology of Leontius of Byzantium”, Journal of Early Christian Studies 10, 245–265. Daley, B. E. (2017), Leontius of Byzantium, Complete Works, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Diekamp, F. (1907), Doctrina Patrum de Incarnatione Verbi: Ein griechisches Florilegium aus der Wende des siebenten und achten Jahrhunderts, Münster: Verlag Aschendorff. Diekamp, F. (1938), Analecta Patristica: Texte und Abhandlungen zur griechischen Patristik (OCA 117), Rome: Pont. Institutum Orientalium Studiorum. Edwards, M. J. (2015), “One Nature of the Word Enfleshed”, Harvard Theological Review 108, 268–306. Erismann, C. (2008), “The Trinity, Universals, and Particular Substances: Philoponus and Roscelin”, Traditio 53, 277–305. Erismann, C. (2010), “Non est Natura sine Persona: The Issue of Uninstantiated Universals from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages”, in M. Cameron and J. Marenbon (ed.), Methods and Methodologies: Aristotelian Logic East and West, 500–1500, Leiden; Boston: Brill, 75–91. Gleede, B. (2012), The Development of the Term enhypostatos from Origen to John of Damascus, Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae 113. Leiden; Boston: Brill. Gray, P. (1989), “The Select Fathers: Canonizing the Patristic Past”, Studia Patristica 23, 21–36. Grillmeier, A. (1975), Christ in Christian Tradition, I: From the Apostolic Age to Chalcedon (451), J. Bowden (trans.), Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press. Grillmeier, A. and T. Hainthaler (1995), Christ in Christian Tradition, II: From the Council of Chalcedon (451) to Gregory the Great (590–604), 2: The Church of Constantinople in the Sixth Century, P. Allen and J. Cawte (trans.), London: Mowbray. Hainthaler, T. (2004), “The Christological Controversy on Proba and John Barbur”, Journal of Eastern Christian Studies 58, 155–170. Krausmüller, D. (2001), “Leontius of Jerusalem, a Theologian of the 7th Century”, The Journal of Theological Studies 52, 637–657. Krausmüller, D. (2005), “Conflicting anthropologies in the Christological Discourse at the End of Late Antiquity: The Case of Leontius of Jerusalem’s Nestorian Adversary”, Journal of Theological Studies 56, 413–447. Krausmüller, D. (2011a), “Aristotelianism and the Disintegration of the Late Antique Theological Discourse”, in J. Loessl and J. Watt (ed.), Interpreting the Bible and Aristotle: Christian and Late Platonist Commentary Between Rome and Bukhara, Aldershot: Ashgate, 151–164. Krausmüller, D. (2011b), “Making Sense of the Formula of Chalcedon: The Cappadocians and Aristotle in Leontius of Byzantium’s Contra Nestorianos et Eutychianos”, VigiliaeChristianae 65, 484–513. Krausmüller, D. (2014), “A  Chalcedonian Conundrum: The Singularity of the Hypostasis of Christ”, Scrinium 10, 371–391. Krausmüller, D. (2015), “Responding to John Philoponus: Hypostases, Particular Substances and Perichoresis in the Trinity”, Journal for Late Antique Religion and Culture 9, 13–28. Krausmüller, D. (2017a), “Under the Spell of John Philoponus: How Chalcedonian Theologians of the Late Patristic Period Attempted to Safeguard the Oneness of God”, Journal of Theological Studies 68, 625–649. Krausmüller, D. (2017b), “Enhypostaton: Being ‘in Another’ or Being ‘with Another’? How Chalcedonian Theologians of the Sixth Century Defined the Ontological Status of Christ’s Human Nature”, Vigiliae Christianae 71, 433–448. Krausmüller, D. (forthcoming), “Does the Flesh Possess Hypostatic Idioms, and If So, Why Is It Then Not a Separate Hypostasis? On a Conceptual Problem of Late Patristic Christology”, in Scrinium. Krausmüller, D. (forthcoming), “Theology and Philosophy in the Late Patristic Discourse: Pure Existence, Qualified Existence, and the Arbor Porphyriana”, in M. McEvoy and K. Parry (ed.), Eastern Christianity and Late Antique Philosophy. Lang, U. M. (2001), John Philoponus and the Controversies over Chalcedon in the Sixth Century, Spicilegium Sacrum Lovaniense, 47, Leuven: Peeters.

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Martikainen, J. (1986), “Die Lehre vom Seelenschlaf in der syrischen Theologie von Afrahat dem Persischen Weisen bis zu dem Patriarchen Timotheos I”, Theologia et Cultura: Studia in honorem G. Nygren (Åbo), 121–129. Rashed, M. (2007), L’héritage aristotélicien: Textes inédits de l’Antiquité, Paris: Les Belles Lettres. Shchukin, T. (2016), “Identity in Difference: Substance and Nature in Leontius of Byzantium’s Writings”, Scrinium 12, 308–321. Siddals, R. (1987), “Logic and Christology in Cyril of Alexandria”, Journal of Theological Studies 39, 341–367. Sorabji, R. (2005), The Philosophy of the Commentators, 200–600AD: A Sourcebook, vol. 2: Physics, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Torrance, I. R. (1988), Christology After Chalcedon: Severus of Antioch and Sergius the Monophysite, Norwich: Canterbury Press. Uthemann, K.-H. (1997), “Definitionen und Paradigmen in der Rezeption des Dogmas von Chalkedon bis in die Zeit Kaiser Justinians”, in J. van Oort and J. Roldanus (ed.), Chalkeon: Geschichte und Aktualität, Leuven: Peeters, 54–122. Van Loon, H. (2009), The Dyophysite Christology of Cyril of Alexandria, Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae, 96, Leiden: Brill. Zachhuber, J. (2013), “Universals in the Greek Church Fathers”, in R. Chiaradonna and G. Galluzzo (ed.), Universals in Ancient Philosophy, Pisa: Edizioni Della Normale, 425–470.

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12 The philosophy of the resurrection in Early Christianity Sophie Cartwright

Introduction: framing the resurrection issue ‘We believe in . . . the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.’

The resurrection of the body was a key tenet of Early Christian belief, inherited from Judaism. At the end of history, dead bodies would be resurrected. For Greek and Latin Christianity, the soul had a conscious, post-mortem existence apart from the body between death and resurrection, so the resurrection was to be a reunion.1 As it progressively formulated its worldview, nascent ‘orthodox’ Christianity found something seminally important in the doctrine of resurrection, which became a central feature of ‘orthodoxy’ in opposition to Gnosticism.2 Even within the narrower, albeit slippery, parameters of orthodox Christianity, the resurrection continued to be a battleground issue, recurring in the ‘Arian’ controversy in the fourth century and the ‘Origenist’ controversy in the fourth and fifth centuries.3 The resurrection is, quite obviously, an eschatological doctrine – our bodies will be raised, our souls reunited with them, on the last day. As a doctrine about eschatology, it has a crucial soteriological dimension. If salvation history reaches its telos in eschatology, salvation wrought in the human being culminates in bodily resurrection. Bodily resurrection is key to the picture of human salvation. Resurrection is thus part of a process that both restores and renews, or promotes, the human being: it reverses the corrupting effects of the fall in the body, and it also confers something further on the body. At the same time, it is the historical person whose body is both restored and renewed – and this body has probably been bashed about a bit in the process of living, and then of decomposing after death. The resurrection therefore raises questions about continuity and change, how they coexist in bodies in general, and how they might do so specifically in the context first of death, and then of transformation. Underlying these questions are other, perhaps more basic ones. What is a body? What is it made of? What particularises one body, distinguishing it from another, and makes it, say, Mary Magdalene’s body and not Martha’s? Discussions on these topics sit on the boundary between physics and metaphysics: in explaining what a body is made of, one begins to consider what makes a body a body. 153

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To ask what makes a body Mary’s body is to ask, at least in part, what makes Mary Mary. That is, the philosophy of the body has profound implications for a wider picture of human nature. The philosophy of the resurrection is fundamentally anthropological: how does the human body feature within the human being? How does it relate to the soul? What does the resurrection say about what a human being is? Different ways of explaining the resurrection result in different answers to this question. These themes are explored in a philosophically relevant way in a rich variety of early Christian texts. I refer to pagan philosophical context where it is helpful for situating a discussion, but my primary concern is to analyse early Christian philosophical arguments about resurrection, and to demonstrate what is at stake in them.

1  The metaphysics of the resurrection Much early Christian thinking on the resurrection takes it as a starting point that the body that is resurrected is the same as the one that lived and died. That is, at least on some level, a person’s resurrection body must be the same as her historical body. Correspondingly, Christ’s resurrection body is typically seen as an archetype for resurrection bodies in general, and Christ’s risen body is manifestly the same one as his historical body: it bore the gorily physical marks of his crucifixion.4 Continuity between historical and resurrection bodies was important across different Christian traditions, and was a sticking point in internal Christian arguments. For example, at the beginning of the fourth century, Methodius of Olympus, who had previously admired Origen, critiques his doctrine of the resurrection for only maintaining continuity of bodily shape, not fleshly substance: ‘the same flesh [sarx] will not be restored with the soul, but that each particular shape [morphê] according to the eidos which now characterises the flesh will arise, imprinted on another spiritual body’ (Methodius, On the Resurrection III.3.4–5 Bonwetsch). We shall see that this is an inaccurate characterisation of Origen’s view of the resurrection. For the moment, it serves to illustrate Methodius’s concern with continuity. A passage from Pamphilus’s Apology for Origen, claiming to relay Origen’s ideas, demonstrates that this concern was understood, and in some way shared, by those who would defend Origen on the resurrection: if the soul alone, which did not struggle alone, is crowned, and the vessel of its body, which served it with very great exertion, should attain no rewards for the struggle and the victory, how does it not seem contrary to all reason . . . that at the time of recompense, one should be brushed aside as unworthy while the other is crowned?5 Probably alluding to Pamphilus’s Apology, Eustathius of Antioch (writing c. 326) similarly writes:6 if the bodies of the martyrs were confined in fetters and in prisons, the ribs were scraped, they were tortured in every way, they were cut limb from limb, they were surrendered into the gluttony of fire, and with all the flesh and similarly all the bones they have been set on fire, is it not by far the most just that the same bodies will be raised again, which went within the things of pain and affliction, about to receive the wages of the pains? (Eustathius of Antioch, Contra Ariomanitas et de anima, translation is my own from fragment 44) So, bodies now dead will be resurrected. This raises several interrelated questions: how is resurrection of dead bodies possible? And what makes something the ‘same body’? That is, what is it 154

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that particularises a body and thus guarantees the continuity of its identity? The second question hints that the meaning of reference to bodily resurrection might not always be straightforward.

The same collection of matter is reconstituted ‘Our bodies, being . . . deposited in the earth, and decomposing there, will rise.’ (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5.2.3)

A large number of early Christian authors conceive of the resurrection as the raising of the same physical matter. That is, the same lump of stuff that comprises my body now will comprise it in the resurrection. This raises some rather awkward questions, understandably pressed by those who oppose the doctrine of the resurrection. These are the subject of several early Christian apologetic tracts that overtly engage pagan philosophy. Let us examine two examples: PseudoJustin Martyr, writing around 178 CE; and Athenagoras, On the Resurrection,7 who states that he is engaging people sympathetic to Christianity but dubious about the resurrection (Rankin 2009: 33–34). Pseudo-Justin reports the problem of the reconstitution of bodies as follows: ‘it is impossible that what is corrupted and dissolved should be restored to the same state as it had been.’8 Pseudo-Justin’s opponents apparently objected that bodies decompose. They may be burnt to a crisp. They can’t be put back together. He responds by appealing to a widespread principle, going back to Presocratic philosophy, that matter is indestructible, and only changes its shape: The thing, then, which is formed of matter, whether it is an image or a statue, is destructible; but the matter itself is indestructible, such as clay or wax, or any other matter of the kind. So the artist designs in the clay or wax, and makes the form of a living animal; and again, if his handiwork is destroyed, it is not impossible for him to make the same form, by working up the same material, and fashioning it anew. (Pseudo-Justin, On the Resurrection 6 ) The questions addressed here are quite simple: 1) is the stuff each body is made of going to be available eschatologically?, and 2) won’t the bodies be damaged beyond repair? Extending his metaphor, we might imagine a wax statue being destroyed. First, Pseudo-Justin appeals to a commonplace philosophical idea to establish that yes, the matter for each body will be available. He notes explicitly that this is a belief shared by Platonists, Stoics, and Epicureans: there are some doctrines acknowledged by them all in common, one of which is that nothing be produced from what is not in being, nor can anything be destroyed or dissolved into what has not any being, and that the elements exist indestructible out of which all things are generated. (Pseudo-Justin, Resurrection, 6. For further reference to this idea, see Nemesius, De Natura Hominis, section 5 = PG, 49–5–15) Second, he asserts that, in that case, given the existence of a creator God, there is no reason why the bodies cannot be re-formed from the same matter. Elsewhere in the treatise, he appeals more explicitly to the power of God. Pseudo-Justin’s discussion about resurrection is thus framed by the concept of an omnipotent creator.9 It is significant that this creator will make, with the 155

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same matter, the same form. ‘Form’ in this case either means something like physical structure, or at least entails this, among other things, as it is the loss of a particular physical structure that is at issue. The implication is that bodily continuity involves the same matter being organised in the same way – and presumably looking the same and feeling the same to the touch, that is, resembling the same thing. In Athenagoras, we see that the post-mortem fate of the various bits that compose bodies raises a further and more complex problem, which is actually made more acute if one holds that there is no new matter: Dead human bodies ultimately become part of other human bodies. Bodies become part of the grass, which is eaten by cattle, which is eaten by people. One lump of atoms can apparently go from composing one piece of human flesh to another. How then, can every human body be reconstituted (Athenagoras, On the Resurrection, 5)? Athenagoras offers two arguments. First, he responds that God has adapted to the nature and kind of each animal the nourishment that corresponds and is suitable to it. God has neither ordained that everything in nature should be unified or combined with every kind of body, nor is at any loss to separate what has been so united.10 He goes onto explain that a human body does not ultimately assimilate another human body as nutrition, but will eject it.11 Roughly speaking, nature is not structured so as to make cannibalism nutritionally profitable, even via the digestive tract of a non-human creature. Therefore, humans do not digest other humans even if they ingest them. A relatively narrow, biological argument about digestion is embedded in a wider philosophy of nature. Those who reject the resurrection on the grounds that some human bodies comprise parts of others are ignorant not only of God’s power but also ‘the power and nature of each of the creatures that nourish or are nourished’. It is noteworthy that in this picture, God is not necessarily jumping in to intervene every time someone eats a wolf that has eaten a human. Rather, God has created humans in such a way that we can deal with this. Athenagoras hints at a second argument to address the same problem, though he does not draw it out: God ‘has neither ordained that everything in nature shall enter into union and combination with every kind of body, nor is at any loss to separate what has been so united’. By ‘separate’, he might simply mean immediate separation of inappropriate food from the body, that is, via vomiting or excretion; these processes he goes on to explain. He could, however, also mean that if a human body were to assimilate another, this would be unnatural and somehow bad for it, and therefore it would be a good thing for these two bodies to be separated again at the resurrection. Seen in this light, Athenagoras’s argument has a partly soteriological implication: the separation would constitute an act of eschatological healing. This begins to locate the doctrine of the resurrection within a wider theory of how the fall is manifest in nature. If nature does not work as it should – for example, if it allows one human to digest another – the consequences will be set right eschatologically, in the resurrection body. Pseudo-Justin’s and Athenagoras’s arguments both take it as a given that the resurrection they are defending is a resurrection of the same matter as comprises a given body within history. Such arguments implicitly assume that a particular collection of matter is key in particularising a body, in making my body mine, and Lazarus’s body Lazarus’s. This assumption clearly has intuitive appeal, but on closer inspection, turns out to be far from obvious. The stuff that comprises a body changes perpetually over a lifetime. Suppose I die in thirty years’ time. The lump of stuff that composes my body now will be different from the lump of stuff that composes my body then. So, if we are concerned with lumps of stuff, which me is resurrected?12 Some

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early Christian thinkers found other ways to explain what particularises a body and that do not necessarily tie human identity to a particular lump of matter, and in any case de-emphasise this question.

‘Form’ particularises a body Pagan philosophy had long been asking questions about what particularises matter. An explanation that has its roots principally in Aristotle is that matter is particularised by form – eidos; more specifically, form is the structuring principle of matter. (This metaphysic is commonly termed hylomorphic, though that is admittedly not a term found in classical or late antiquity). Aristotle (Physics 195a6–b8) famously gave the example of a bronze statue – the bronze is the matter, the statue shape is the form. Within this framework, the soul is the form of the body. This idea is taken up in diverse ways in late ancient philosophy, often together with a belief that body and soul are separate entities (for brief summary, see Cartwright 2015: 93–97). For example, the Neoplatonist philosopher Porphyry describes the union between body and the embodied soul as a ‘composite form and matter’ whilst maintaining a very clear ontological distinction between soul and body (Porphyry, Sentences, 21, discussed at Cartwright 2015: 96). I have argued elsewhere that this idea of soul giving form to the body was influential in diverse strands of early Christian anthropology, and across lines of argument about the nature of resurrection bodies (Cartwright 2015: chapter 3 passim). Relatedly, Ilaria Ramelli has argued persuasively for a ‘hylomorphic’ anthropology in Origen of Alexandria and, following him, Gregory of Nyssa.13 Origen, she notes, writes that ‘every body is endowed with an individual form’ (Origen, On First Principles, 2.10.2, trans. Ramelli). It would be superfluous to reproduce Ramelli’s full range of textual analysis here. A passage she cites brings out the question of identity, and shows how ‘form’ provides an answer. Gregory has recently described objections to the resurrection like those cited by Athenagoras and Pseudo-Justin – some bodies are eaten, decomposed bodies will be dispersed, and so on. This passage appears within his defence of resurrection: on one hand, the body is altered by way of growth and diminution, changing, like garments, the vesture of its successive statures. On the other hand, the form [eidos] remains unaltered in itself through every change, not varying from the marks [sêmêion] once imposed upon it by nature, but appearing with its own marks of identity [gnôrismatôn] in all the changes which the body undergoes. We must except, however, from this statement the change which happens to the form as the result of disease: for the deformity of sickness takes possession of the form like some strange mask, and when this is removed by the word, as in the case of Naaman the Syrian, or of those whose story is recorded in the gospel, the form that had been hidden by disease is once more by means of health restored to sight again with its own marks of identity.14 Gregory here notes that bodies change across time, but insists that personal identity located in the body does not, because the form (eidos) ‘imposed on it by nature’ does not. In this case, form is evidently not simply outward appearance, because form is constant over the course of a life, whilst outward appearance changes; form is what makes someone who they are in a fundamental sense. It seems that there is, nonetheless, something visible about this form, or the remarks about it being hidden by disease would be nonsense – the concept of bodily form qua structuring principle is tied to perceptible reality.

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Gregory goes on to explain that these marks of identity allow the soul to recognise the body, so that its scattered constituent parts may be recalled to the soul and reconstituted eschatologically (Gregory of Nyssa, De Opificio Hominis, 27, 5). It is important to be clear that a belief that form is the locus of personal identity, and preserves it between death and resurrection, is quite compatible with a belief that the same matter as decomposed is reconstituted, as Gregory seems to hold here. Nonetheless, it might sometimes have been an alternative: recall Methodius’s critique of Origen as believing that the resurrection is one of form, not of flesh. He seems to be thinking of Origen’s ‘form’ as outward shape, and it is by now evident that this is an inaccurate characterisation. Origen regards form as something like an underlying metaphysical principle.15 There may, nonetheless, be a remaining, substantive disagreement. Methodius knew Origen’s work well, and his objection is likely to have its origins in a reasonable interpretation of Origen.16 Perhaps in Origen’s understanding, resurrection bodies imprinted with the same form, i.e., metaphysically structured the same, are still not resurrection of the ‘same flesh’, if this is taken to entail a particular lump of matter currently decomposing in the ground. Early Christian philosophies of the resurrection, then, were keen to establish continuity between the historical and resurrection bodies. To do so, they variously drew on the principle of the indestructability of matter, and employ the notion of ‘form’ as a structuring and particularising principle of the human body. In the latter, they take up a tradition of thought that goes back at least to Aristotle, but that had been reworked in eclectic late ancient Platonisms.

Metaphysical transformation So much for the consideration of how continuity is maintained in the human body across history and eschatology. Early Christian thinkers agree that resurrection involves change as well as continuity. What is mortal will become immortal. That, after all, is at least half the point of resurrection.17 Ideas about the transformation of the body, and its limits, tend to start from soteriology rather than metaphysics. The fall damages, among other things, the physical creation. The transformation of the body is the healing of physical creation, manifested in the human person. In the next section, the transformation involved in the resurrection will be briefly located in an anthropological and ethical context. Here, it is important to consider some metaphysical contours. The philosophical milieu in which early Christianity was a complex space for the issue of transformation to be negotiated. On one level, the concept of immortal human bodies did not sit comfortably with dominant late ancient philosophical ideas, including Christian ones, about what embodiment entails. Bodies are changeable. The human bodies we inhabit in history are mortal, corruptible, time-bound.18 How can they enter eternity? However, the contrast between body and eternity was not therefore straightforward, because corporeality had degrees; it existed in a multilayered, not purely dualistic, framework. Hence in Iamblichus we find the concept of an ‘ethereal body’ connected to the concept of a ‘soul-vehicle’ that the soul retains after death.19 Origen similarly has a variegated picture of corporeality, writing on the one hand that only God is bodiless, but on the other that the human mind is bodiless.20 Augustine of Hippo, writing from the late fourth to early fifth centuries, particularly wrestled with how embodiment would, and would not, change in the resurrection. In On the Faith and the Creed Against Gaudentius, Augustine references Paul’s statement that ‘flesh and blood will not inherit the kingdom of God [1 Corinthians 15.50].’ He interprets this passage as implying a distinction between flesh [carnis] and body [corpus] and argues that ‘at that moment of angelic transformation it will no longer be flesh and blood but only a body’ (On the Faith and the Creed against Gaudentius 10.24). Augustine is radically reworking the category of physicality to distance resurrection bodies from the historical phenomenon of embodiment. He does not, 158

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however, remain comfortable with this idea; much later, in the Retractions, he feels the need to clarify that Paul’s statement ‘is not to be interpreted as if the substance of the flesh will no longer exist; but by the term flesh and blood, we are to understand that the Apostle meant the corruption itself of flesh and blood.’21 Here, Augustine might be seen as making his peace with the body by honing in on and isolating the aspect of it that is at issue all along: corruptibility.22 Flesh and blood, he concedes, are not intrinsically corruptible. Here, the Christian doctrine of resurrection has employed a Neoplatonic category of variegated corporeality, but shifted the terms, so that an eternal body bears closer resemblance to an earthly one.

2  The philosophical anthropology of the resurrection We can already see from the arguments about continuity between historical and resurrection bodies that the doctrine of the resurrection is affirmed on anthropological principles: crudely, human beings are inherently physical. If a human body continues to rot in the ground or float dispersed on the wind or high seas, the human being is not saved. It is clear, then, that a concern for personal identity at least partly motivates preoccupation with continuity between historical and resurrection bodies: in order to be the same person, one must have the same body, whatever that turns out to mean. Thinking about the resurrection is embedded in a wide range of philosophical-theological anthropology.

The resurrection and the protology of sin The argument about what constitutes a human being is bound up, from very early on, with a nexus of arguments over value and ethics, and which is very concerned with the protology of sin.23 This happens against a Middle and later Neoplatonic background in which matter was a morally suspect category. For instance, the pagan Middle Platonist Numenius asserts that nothing in the perceptible realm is completely without vice.24 In the second century, this is closely connected to Christianity’s argument with, and self-­ definition against, Gnosticism. For example, in Against Heresies, Irenaeus of Lugdunum excoriates his Gnostic opponents on the grounds that, by denying the resurrection, they deny the salvation and thus the value of the body (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 4, pref. 4). The body is also specifically an integral part of the human creature: ‘anthropos, and not a part of anthropos, was made in God’s likeness’ (Against Heresies 5.6.1). Pseudo-Justin has a very similar idea: ‘Then isn’t it absurd to say that the flesh made by God in God’s own image is contemptible, and worth nothing’ (Ps.-Justin, Resurrection 7)? The point is crude but important. The human body matters; it is a part of God’s good creation, and an integral part of what God created human beings to be. In these second-century writers, there is a strong emphasis on the image of God in the human body, though this is a more specific point; other Christian writers who place God’s image exclusively, or at least by origin, in the soul, still defend the goodness of the body as part of God’s creation.25 Both Irenaeus and Pseudo-Justin also encountered the more specific objection that the body was the cause of sin. Pseudo-Justin lays out this objection, and his response, as follows: yet the flesh is a sinner, so much so, that it forces the soul to sin along with it. And so they vainly accuse it, and blame it alone for the sin of both. But in what instance can the flesh possibly sin by itself, if it doesn’t have the soul going before it and inciting it? For as in the case of a yoke of oxen, if one or other is loosed from the yoke, neither of them can plough alone; so neither can soul or body alone effect anything, if they are unyoked from their communion. (Ps.-Justin 8) 159

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For Pseudo-Justin, body and soul can only sin together – ‘neither can plough alone’ – but the soul actually leads in sinning. The resurrection, then, was connected to a rejection of body-soul dualism in a moral framework.

Resurrection bodies and the telos of the body The fact that the sameness of the resurrection body is necessary to the sameness of the person has a further implication: whatever is shed from the historical body in resurrection is not intrinsic to the person. Early Christian writers typically distance the resurrection body from a range of typically bodily activities, eating and sex being prominent. They are often responding to a broadly Platonist philosophical milieu in which the body, by definition, was associated with these things. To be bodily is to be driven by physical appetites, and the process of controlling these is partly the process of freeing the soul from the body, as far as is possible during this life. Death, in this picture, is liberation from the body (Plato, Phaedo 61c–69e; Porphyry, Sentences 9). Against this background, resurrection might look like a re-entombment of a soul that was briefly allowed to escape. Christians need to explain how this is not so, but they face the problem that they tend to share with pagan Platonisms a broad sense that carnal desires enslave. As we shall see, they also believe that neither digestion nor sex will exist in the new creation. Some patristic authors argue that certain bodily parts, and specifically sexual organs, will not exist in resurrection bodies. Gregory of Nyssa argues that sexual difference will be done away with in the resurrection, on the basis that we were not initially made male and female anyway: sexual distinction, and the need to procreate, are for him a consequence of the fall (Gregory of Nyssa, Making of Humankind 22). This places a great distance between our historical bodies and their telos. It suggests that perhaps many of the properties common to us humans as we inhabit history are contingent. To put it in Aristotelian terms, they are accidental, rather than essential. Notably, there is an implied corresponding distance between historical and resurrection society, or life. The more different we are to be, the more different resurrection life is to be. By contrast, another strand of Christian thought posits that resurrection bodies will have all the same parts as historical bodies, but these will not be put to carnal uses. The third-century Latin Christian Tertullian offers a good example in his treatise On the Resurrection: Now you have received your mouth, O man, for the purpose of devouring your food and imbibing your drink: why not, however, for the higher purpose of uttering speech, so as to distinguish yourself from all other animals? Why not rather for preaching the gospel of that God, so you may become his priest and advocate before people? Adam gave the animals their names before he plucked the fruit of the tree; before he ate, he prophesied. Then, again, you received your teeth for the consumption of your meal: why not rather for wreathing your mouth with suitable defence on every opening thereof, small or wide? Why not, too, for moderating the impulses26 of your tongue, and guarding your articulate speech from failure and violence? . . . There are toothless persons in the world. Look at them and ask whether even a cage of teeth be not an honour to the mouth. There are apertures in the lower regions of man and woman, by means of which they gratify no doubt their animal passions; but why are they not rather regarded as outlets for the cleanly discharge of natural fluids? (Tertullian, On the Resurrection 61.1–3 amended from ANF ) As for Athenagoras, for Tertullian the philosophy of the resurrection has become bound up with a philosophy of nature. Even more explicitly than Athenagoras, Tertullian asks 160

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teleological questions: all the parts of the body were designed by God for a purpose, but what is that purpose? Tertullian strongly implies that the human body is not intended primarily for carnal functions: tellingly, he cites the fact that people fast and are celibate even in this life in support of his argument about the resurrection. He does not simply think that all the unsavoury, or indeed sinful, bits of corporeality will be done away with in the resurrection, but instead that if even here on earth both the functions and the pleasures of our members can be suspended  .  .  . how much more, when his salvation is secure, and especially in an eternal dispensation, will we cease to desire those things, for which, even here below, we are not unaccustomed to check our longings! (On the Resurrection 6) The implication is that carnal sins disregard the body’s true telos in general. For Tertullian, the philosophy of the resurrection is grounded in a wider philosophical-anthropological ethics, not just for resurrection life, but for now. The resurrection concretises post-mortem survival and so obliges one to think concretely about what constitutes human perfectibility, in a way that belief in the post-mortem survival of a disembodied is less likely to.

Conclusion Early Christian doctrine tended to insist on the material continuity of the body between history and resurrection, and some of its philosophy of the resurrection is therefore devoted to demonstrating that this is possible within the framework of physics – not only that matter persists, but that the matter of one human body doesn’t become the matter of another. Wrestling with the notion of the body in time, many early Christian thinkers wrestled articulated bodily continuity – and therefore bodily particularity – in terms of form, meaning something like underlying or structuring principle. Here they drew on a tradition with Aristotelian roots that found echoes in contemporary Neoplatonism. In all of these things, the philosophy of the resurrection in early Christianity was all but inextricable from a philosophy of the body tout court: what particularises a body; what constitutes the continuity of a body in time? Furthermore, historical bodies are seen in light of resurrection. If the resurrection asks us to think about apparently time-bound, historical categories in eternal terms, it also asks us to think about those categories in the light of eternity. Sometimes, this involved acknowledging the radical contingency of our current bodily state, as in Gregory of Nyssa. At other times, as for Tertullian, it involved thinking afresh about the purpose of the body as it is. This also meant asking questions about how we, as bodily creatures, are and should act in light of eternity. There is, as we saw in Tertullian, a philosophical ethics of the resurrection. The doctrine of the resurrection was at the heart of early Christianity, and it sat at the centre of Christian thinking on a range of questions about what it is to be human, how history related to eschatology, and what that meant for ethical norms.

Notes 1 A different picture is found within Syriac Christianity; the fourth-century writer Aphrahat, Demonstration on Resurrection, 8.22, suggests that the soul, or ‘spirit’, is trapped in the body at death. 2 We have a window onto this in Irenaeus’s emphasis on resurrection in his anti-Gnostic writing Against Heresies, or, more accurately translated On the Refutation of Knowledge Falsely So-Called, which is 161

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discussed later in the chapter. For this translation of the title of Irenaeus’s work, see Steenberg 2012; Setzer 2004: 4 argues that belief in the resurrection was a boundary issue in early Christian self-­ definition, demarcating orthodoxy. 3 Relatedly, Young 2011: 71 has argued that the ‘Arian’ and ‘Origenist’ controversies can be seen as different stages in one argument in which issues about ‘the physical creation and human embodiment’ are central. I have discussed the issue of body-soul relations in the early ‘Arian’ controversy in more detail in Cartwright 2015: ch. 3. 4 According to Luke 24.39–40, the resurrected Christ shows the apostles his hands and feet. In John 20.19–25 (NRSV), the resurrected Christ showed his disciples ‘his hands and his side’ (verse 19) and later instructs Thomas: ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side’ (verse 25). For a discussion of this idea in Eustathius of Antioch, see Cartwright 2015: 126–127. 5 Pamphilus, Apology for Origen, amended translation of Scheck (2000), 128. Origen is sometimes accused of not really believing in the resurrection, hence the inclusion of this passage in the Apology. 6 For a discussion of how Eustathius may use the Apology here, see Cartwright 2015: 118–120. 7 The Athenagorean authorship of the work is contested; Grant (1954) argued that it was responding to some Origenian ideas (which we will encounter later in the chapter) which would place it too late for the second-century Athenagoras, Origen writing in the third century. The authorship of the work is not the main concern of this chapter, and beyond its subject’s scope. This is, in any case, certainly an instance of early Christian apologetic on resurrection. A detailed discussion is contained in Rankin 2009: ch. 2. 8 Pseudo-Justin Martyr, On the Resurrection chapter 2. Translation of this work amended from ANF. For the Greek text, see Heimgartner 2001. 9 Athenagoras thinks more deeply about what this power will enable God to do: God will know where the various different bits of different bodies have ended up. Athenagoras, On the Resurrection, 2. 10 Athenagoras, Resurrection, 5. Translation amended from ANF. The Greek text is edited by Pouderon 1992. 11 He seems to envisage this happening primarily through vomiting, but also argues that, even where something is initially digested, it is not necessarily absorbed by the body, suggesting that this might occur through defecation. 12 This is a point made by the character Aglaophon in Methodius of Olympus’s dialogue, On the Resurrection, I.10–12, written at the beginning of the fourth century. See further Cartwright 2018. I draw on a discussion in an early piece of work. 13 Ilaria Ramelli, ‘Hylomorphism in Origen: A  Background for Gregory of Nyssa’s Anthropology?’ forthcoming. 14 Gregory of Nyssa, De Opificio Hominis, 27, 3–4, translation amended from NPNF = PG 44, 124–256. 15 See Crouzel 1972; Mark Edwards 2002: 109 further argues that for Origen eidos/form retains a material substrate. 16 For Methodius’s familiarity with Origen, see Patterson 1997: 123–145. 17 Though apparently this point was not always appreciated by external observers: Nemesius reports that some people likened the doctrine of resurrection to the Stoic doctrine that the world will conflagrate and then be replaced by an identical one (De Natura Hominis, section 38 [PG 112]). 18 A foundational text for this idea is Plato’s Phaedo 74b–84b, where the soul is likened to the eternal, unchangeable, and immortal; the body to the changeable and mortal. 19 E.g. Iamblichus, On the Mysteries, 202. For discussion of this passage and the connection between ethereal body and soul-vehicle, see Shaw 2013: 547. 20 Origen, On First Principles, 1.6.4 and 1.1.5–7 respectively. I  discuss this in Cartwright, Eustathius: 92–93. 21 Augustine, Retractations, 2.3. For discussions of Augustine’s change of mind, see Fletcher 2014: 44–45; Nightingale 2011: 44–46. 22 Cf. Methodius, Symposium, 9.5, on the incorruptibility of resurrection bodies. 23 For a more detailed treatment of how this nexus of ideas relates to questions about the body in patristic Christianity, see Cartwright 2018. 24 Numenius, Fragment 52.113–115, ed. Des Places, from Chalcidius, On the Timaeus 299. I am indebted to Edwards 2018. 25 For example, Methodius of Olympus, who defends the goodness of the body forcefully in his De Resurrectione, either locates the image in the soul (Convivium 1.1) or, even in De Resurrectione, suggests that

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the body might derive the image of God via the soul (De Resurrectione, ed. Bonwetsch I.34.2–3). I have discussed this in more detail in Cartwright 2015: 160–161. 26 pulsus linguae.

Bibliography ANF: Library of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, P. Schaff (ed.), series regularly republished, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. Bonwetsch, N. (ed.). (1891), Methodius von Olymp, Leipzig: Böhme. Cartwright, S. (2015), The Theological Anthropology of Eustathius of Antioch, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Cartwright, S. (2018), “Soul and Body in Early Christianity: An Old and New Conundrum”, in Anna Marmodoro and Sophie Cartwright (eds.), A History of Mind and Body in Late Antiquity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 173–190. Crouzel, Henri (1972), “Les critiques adresées par Méthode et ses contemporains a la doctrine origénienne du corps ressuscité”, Gregorianum 53, 679–716. Declerck, José (2002), Eustathii Antiocheni, patris Nicaeni, opera quae supersunt omnia, Turnhout: Brepols. Edwards, M. J. (2002), Origen against Plato, Aldershot: Ashgate. Edwards, M. J. (2018), “Numenius”, in Anna Marmodoro and Sophie Cartwright (eds.), A History of Mind and Body in Late Antiquity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 52–66. Fletcher, Paul (2014), Resurrection Realism: Ratzinger the Augustinian, Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock. Grant, R. M. (1954), “Athenagoras or Pseudo-Athenagoras?”, Harvard Theological Review 47 121–129. Heimgartner, M. (ed.). (2001), Pseudojustin, Über die Aufestehung, Berlin: De Gruyter. Nightingale, Andrea (2011), Once Out of Nature: Augustine on Time and the Body, Chicago: Chicago University Press. NPNF: A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. Patterson, Lloyd (1997), Methodius of Olympus: Divine Sovereignty, Human Freedom and Life in Christ, Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press. PG: Patrologia Graeca. Pouderon, B. (1992), Supplique au sujet des chrétiens et sur la resurrection des morts, Paris: Cerf. Rankin, D. M. (2009), Athenagoras: Philosopher and Theologian, London: Ashgate. Scheck, T. (trans.). (2000), Pamphilus: Apology for Origen, Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press. Setzer, C. (2004), Resurrection of the Body in Early Judaism and Early Christianity: Doctrine, Community and Self-Definition, Leiden: Brill. Shaw, Gregory (2013), “Theurgy and the Platonist’s Luminous Body”, in April DeConick, Gregory Shaw and John D. Turner (eds.), Practicing Gnosis: Ritual, Magic, Theurgy and Liturgy in Nag Hammadi, Manichaean and Other Ancient Literature, Leiden: Brill, 537–557. Steenberg, M. C. (2012), “Tracing the Irenaean Legacy”, in Paul Foster and Sara Parvis (eds.), Irenaeus: Life, Scripture, Legacy, Augsburg: Fortress Press, 199–211. Young, F. M. (2011), “God’s Image: The Elephant in the Room in the Fourth Century?”, Studia Patristica 50, 57–72.

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13 Biblical hermeneutics Scot Douglass

Framing the problem Reading is and always has been difficult, even when, or perhaps especially when, restricted to reading how others have read – how Platonists read Plato, for example, or how early Christians read the Scriptures. Centuries of scholarship, ranging from sharply focused articles to monumental volumes,1 have yet to exhaust our understanding of the complexities of biblical hermeneutics as practiced in the early Church. The purpose of this contribution, though, is not to rehearse the scholarly consensus and ongoing disputes regarding how patristic exegetes read the Bible, but rather to make that conversation richer and more complicated by situating their hermeneutics within the reading habits, assumptions, challenges and expectations of their pagan philosophical peers. What emerges is a similar set of interpretive struggles and strategies linked at a more fundamental level by (1) the relationship between language and truth, (2) the nature of written language, (3) a shared commitment to the practice of truth, (4) a common classical education, (5) the inheritance of recognized authoritative texts, (6) the increased distance  – historically, culturally, linguistically – between reader and source text, (7) disputes with other reading thinkers, and (8) belonging to particular reading traditions. Before exploring these similarities, though, we must first sketch out why reading the Bible was so important to the early Church and why doing it well was so difficult. Although hermeneutics played a role in doctrinal debates, interpreting the Bible was first and foremost essential to being spiritual. As Henri de Lubac (1959) observed: “ancient Christian exegesis is . . . the ancient Christian way of thinking . . . giv[ing] expression to ‘the prodigious newness of the Christian fact.’ ” The Christian reading project revolved around a very practical commitment to the spiritual welfare of ordinary believers and the production, therefore, of textually informed homilies, commentaries, lives of saints, funeral orations, catechisms, catechetical aids and liturgies. Even the great Trinitarian and Christological debates were driven by the ubiquitous spiritual practice of worshipping Jesus. The so-called rival hermeneutical schools of Antioch and Alexandria were centuries-old catechetical schools whose evolving disagreements emerged directly from concerns over how best to promote spiritual understanding and maturity. In the highly stylized account of his own conversion, Augustine, a professional rhetorician by trade, underlined the prominence of spiritual reading in the early Church. After rehearsing multiple 164

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examples of people reading their way to the Christian faith, Augustine recounts how his own journey to Christ culminated in obedience to the singsong refrain from the nearby children’s game: “Tolle, lege! Tolle, lege!” (“Take [it] [and] read [it]! Take [it] [and] read [it]!”) (Conf. 8.12). The basic hermeneutical challenges faced by the early Church begin with the unambiguous identification of the implied “it” as the Bible (the Jewish Scriptures and eventually the New Testament), with all its strange blends of genres, styles, languages, authors, cultures, historical contexts and traditions. Moreover, before Augustine can read it with any spiritual value – he has been reading it for decades without allowing it to insinuate2 itself in his heart – he must first negotiate the implications of the prior command to “take it”: the active decision to submit to its authority and believe in its divinely inspired voice. Biblical hermeneutics for patristic exegetes required more than one’s mind; it required one’s will, one’s heart and one’s life. The complexities of reading the Scriptures in the early Church included at least the following:   1 The Bible was regarded as an authoritative text of divine origin. No passage, therefore, could be ignored, rejected or otherwise managed without acknowledging its claim on the Christian reader.   2 Despite dozens of distinct human authors (the majority of which wrote before the incarnation of Christ), the Bible was believed to have a single divine author and, therefore, a consistent theological and, in particular, Christological message.   3 The Jewish Scriptures were written over centuries not only in a different language but from a different intellectual, rhetorical and cultural tradition.   4 The Jewish Scriptures were almost exclusively accessed through the translated Septuagint whose Greek vocabulary, syntax and style seemed “foreign” to Hellenistic Greek readers who were not also Hellenistic Jews.   5 Many aspects of the Jewish Scriptures if read at face value struck the Church Fathers as being unworthy of God: the sexuality of The Song of Songs, for example, or the commandments to kill every man, woman and child in Jericho.   6 The Bible, itself, provided multiple examples of New Testament authors reading the Jewish Scriptures through prophetic, allegorical, symbolic and typological hermeneutical lenses – interpretations that even using these methods would otherwise have been elusive.   7 The patristic practice of reading did not separate theory and practice. As a result, they believed that reading a spiritual text well required being spiritual and reading it spiritually.  8 The vast majority of influential Christian readers in the early Church were specifically trained in the Greek rhetorical tradition. The Scriptures, on the other hand, including most of the NT, were not produced by authors steeped in the same tradition of reading and who did not, therefore, write within its conventions.   9 Different approaches to reading the Bible, motivated by different challenges and shaped by different historical contexts, resulted not only in competing Christian schools of hermeneutic thought that evolved over time but also in a growing library of Christian readings. 10 Biblical hermeneutics needed to be fluid and malleable according to context when in the service of the varieties of textual production common in the early church: commentaries, homilies, funeral orations, theological treatises, creeds, letters and liturgies, as well as polemics and apologies directed against perceived theological enemies both within and outside the Christian community. As the gospel spread beyond the direct oversight of the original disciples, concrete disputes surfaced concerning spiritual practices that could no longer be solved by apostolic authority but by contested readings of recognized authoritative texts. The letters of Paul, the earliest 165

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extant Christian writings, reveal how quickly disagreements arose about how to read the Jewish Scriptures in Gentile churches in respect to a whole host of practical spiritual matters. Early catechetical aids such as the Didache provided a “second-generation” bridge, textualized and portable, to Jewish-Gentile Christian rituals and practices. As early as the second century, Church Fathers embedded explicit hermeneutical principles alongside specific readings. The increased intensity of the disputes, combined with the growth of the church and the distance, both geographically and chronologically, from its founding events all served to further textualize the faith and increase the authority of the Scriptures. This in turn demanded a more robust and systematic treatment of what would become known as biblical hermeneutics. By the third century, the catechetical schools in Alexandria and Antioch developed distinctive hermeneutical approaches, and Origen, beyond hermeneutical discussions in his commentaries, dedicated a portion of Book 4 of On First Principles, regarded as the first systematic treatise of Christian theology, on how to interpret the Scriptures. Constantine’s imperial validation of Christianity added a new public dimension to questions of orthodoxy, heterodoxy and heresy that resulted in disputes rooted in more fundamental debates about hermeneutics and adjudicated in both ecumenical and competing church councils where rhetorical skills mattered (Philostorgius, Church History 4.12). Looking back at the future impact of all this Christian attention to reading, Brian Stock credits Augustine with laying “the theoretical foundation of a reading culture” and “[giving] birth to the West’s first developed theory of reading” (Stock 1996: 1). But well before the articulation of such systematic underpinnings, the spiritual practices of the early church established a culture of reading whose various approaches defy simple categorizations and definitive distinctions. Thomas Böhm notes: The terms history, literal sense, typology, allegory, theoria and anagoge are the most commonly used with respect to the methods of interpretation by the Fathers. . . . Above all, it must be stressed that these notions cannot be separated from each other in a clear and satisfactory way. (Kannengiesser 2004: 213) Given that the NT authors, themselves, used all of these methods in reading the Jewish ­Scriptures, distinctions claimed between them by patristic exegetes were largely of degree and attitude. Even so, the basic hermeneutical challenges facing patristic exegetes were not altogether unique when compared to those of the pagan philosopher. As a result, Biblical hermeneutics were deeply informed by, shared a great deal in common with and, on occasion, departed from the reading habits and methods practiced in the philosophical tradition. This influence, though was as pervasive and passive as it was particular, as implicit and inherited as it was explicit, as natural and reflexive as it was self-conscious. That is, the spiritual concerns, exegetical battles and theological debates that permeated the reception and production of Christian texts in late antiquity turned on hermeneutical principles debated, for the most part, from within an unchallenged Hellenistic episteme. Although Christians might readily reject the content of pagan literature and philosophy, they were far less capable, let alone ready, to reject the way they had been educated to understand it. As a result, the pagan teacher Ammonius Saccas can have trained both Plotinus and Origen. The remainder of this chapter will be organized into two main sections: (1) a look at the structural and historical relationship between classical rhetoric and biblical hermeneutics, and (2) an examination of a series of common hermeneutical challenges faced by Church leaders and pagan philosophers. 166

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Classical rhetoric and biblical hermeneutics Rhetoric, the sister techne to hermeneutics, was a vital thread in the cultural fabric of classical antiquity. Grounded in a love of the Greek language and the need to navigate sociopolitical contexts that were being discursively determined, rhetoric maximized the persuasive potential of language by being attentive to its emotional, cognitive and aural impacts. It harnessed the influence of meter, the effect of sound combinations, the conventions of grammar, the arrangement of ideas, the power of poetic devices and the dynamism of delivery to produce a compelling synergy between pleasure and persuasion. It became the cornerstone of education and the currency of civic life. The poetry of Homer stood organically at the head of the rhetorical tradition as the leading source of both pleasure and wisdom (Plato, Republic 337b) – a status challenged by Plato and other philosophers in ways that would prove relevant to patristic hermeneutics. Broadly defined as the systematic methods used to persuade through words, rhetoric first emerged as a coherent concept/skill in the fifth-century democracies of Athens and Syracuse. Itinerant teachers known as Sophists offered rhetorical training, and the first handbooks on rhetoric appeared (Kennedy 1959). Pericles’s Funeral Oration (Pel. War 2:34–36) endeavored to define Athenian democracy and persuade its citizens to act on this vision. By the fourth century, oratory as exemplified by Demosthenes played a central role in forging Greek political and cultural identity in the aftermath of the defeat of tyranny. Beginning with Isocrates, regular schools of rhetoric became common, producing a detailed lexicon of technical vocabulary to describe various elements of public speaking. Later in the same century, Alexander conquered the Mediterranean world and Hellenized it. As a result, rhetoric became a regular part of the education of young men throughout the Hellenistic world, later extending its pervasive influence throughout the Roman empire. The successful translation of the rhetorical tradition from Greek to Latin had notable champions including Virgil, Horace, Livy, Ovid and above all Cicero (106–43 BCE), who not only translated Greek philosophy into Latin but who made Latin oratory true to itself as a language of poetic and rhetorical power. Quintilian (35–c. 96 CE), the first state-supported teacher of rhetoric in the Roman empire, wrote the highly influential Institutio oratoria, which successfully advocated that rhetorical training be interwoven into all of education. Although Christianity began as a Judeo/Palestinian movement, its quick growth took it to a Greek- and Latin-speaking world in which a thorough understanding of rhetorical principles, devices and techniques could be assumed of every educated person – including the Church Fathers (Cameron 1991; Lim 1994). Their relationship to language was saturated by a system of standards and expectations that governed the right way to digest and produce discourses. Although rhetorical training was the common cultural denominator throughout the Greco-Roman world of the patristic era, it had lost something of its past grandeur. Already in the early years of the second century, the pagan orator Tacitus summarized the consensus for the decline of classical rhetoric: loss of political weight, removal from the populace to the academy, morbid focus on a barren past, and the clever, mannered ornamentation of too much poetry.3 Rhetoric had been drained of its practical vigor, its vital attachment to life; and although the classical paideia, as Peter Brown has argued, was still an essential ingredient in the smooth fourth-century running of a widely spread empire, eloquence found itself subservient to the goals of civic peace, pacifying distinctions (instead of clarifying them) between Christian and pagan by providing a common discursive surface.4 Libanius lamented that pagan religion would not be given the opportunity under Constantine and his Christian heirs to revive Hellenistic rhetoric because they had severed the last link between the living rhetoric of the past and the dead rhetoric of the schools: the link between “sacrifice and words” (ἱερὰ καὶ λόγοι) (Oration 62, 7–8). 167

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Gregory of Nazianzus, educated in this weak form of oratory, spoke dismissively upon his return from Athens of the expectations of his friends, family and fellow citizens to dazzle them with his recently acquired rhetorical skills.5 When I arrived home, I gave a display of eloquence to satisfy the inordinate desire of those demanding this of me as if it were a debt. But to me, I place no value upon vapid applause or upon those stupid and intricate conceits which are the delight of sophists. (De vita sua, 265–269) Instead, Gregory had studied rhetoric for the sake of Christian eloquence, to “turn bastard letters to the service of those that are genuine” (De vita sua, 113–114). The urgency of having something to say not only gave great vigor to Christian communication but forged a dynamic link between rhetoric and hermeneutics, between speaking and reading. Plato’s critique of rhetoric animated the patristic relationship to language as an inseparable interaction of reading, speaking and truth. In Book 10 of the Republic, Plato famously claimed “there is an old quarrel between philosophy and poetry” (Resp. 607b) and spent considerable effort linking this to a quarrel between philosophy and rhetoric (see McCoy 2008). In short, Socrates’s main critique of the Sophist and Rhapsode was that their persuasive words did not emerge from knowledge of the subject. When had Homer governed a city or led soldiers to victory (Resp. 598e–600d)? Gorgias could speak persuasively about virtue, and Ion could powerfully perform the Iliad, but their impact was limited to their listeners’ beliefs, not their knowledge, because Gorgias did not understand the nature of justice and Ion did not understand the nature of valor. Rhetoric as employed by the Sophists was not a techne (τέχνη) but an empeiria (ἐμπειρία), an experience-based ability to use the tools of rhetoric to touch upon subjects with highly persuasive – perhaps even inspired – ignorance. But Plato’s comprehensive and highly influential critique becomes complicated when reading his own textualized and at times highly “poetic” philosophy (see Partenie 2009). In the Phaedrus, Socrates allowed for the possibility, under certain conditions, of good rhetoric and good texts. Socrates listed the necessary characteristics of philosophical rhetoric: knowing the subject matter, knowing the soul of the listeners, and then knowing how to skillfully pitch one’s presentation of knowledge according to the listeners’ capacity to understand (Phaedrus 277). Plato understood that truth always possessed a persuasive component, and it was in this rhetorical register that the patristic exegetes read and taught the Scriptures.6 After laughing at Meletus’s warning that the jurors be wary of his sophistic eloquence, Socrates acknowledged that perhaps he was eloquent and indeed even an orator if the main virtue of eloquence was speaking the truth (Apology. 17b). In a similar vein, the Church Fathers’ rhetorical education required them to acknowledge the unpolished and literary crudeness of the Scriptures but, following Plato, defended them as worthy texts because they spoke the truth (Clement, Protrepticus 8; Origen, First Principles IV.1.7, IV.2.13). But when these same readers of Biblical truth turned to proclaim Biblical truth, regardless of the genre, they did so according to the standards and methods of their rhetorical education (see Gibbons 2015). The process of reading a text in order to speak your interpretation and of interpreting a text with the conscious awareness that you are about to preach it blurs the line between the reception of textual truth and the production of truthful texts. Patristic exegetes were always readers who spoke persuasively and persuasive speakers of what they had read: “There are two things on which all interpretation of Scripture depends: the mode of ascertaining the proper meaning, and the mode of making known the meaning when it is ascertained” 168

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(Augustine, Christian Doctrine 1.1) The reciprocal entanglements of rhetoric, truth, textuality, hermeneutics and moral responsibility could not be separated in practice. This allowed Biblical hermeneuts to conflate the truth-telling of Plato and Moses. Beginning with Philo, who desired to make the Jewish Scriptures relevant to a Hellenistic audience, Plato was thought to have learned his philosophy from Moses, which in turn justified reading Moses through the lens of Platonism. Jerome captured this bidirectionality in a proverb still in circulation in the fourth century: “Either Philo Platonizes or Plato Philonizes” (Illustrious Men 11). To better understand the particular hermeneutic challenges examined in the next section, it is important to keep in mind to what extent patristic exegetes, to borrow a rhetorical phrase from Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill, “lived and moved and had their being” (Acts 17:28) in the classical rhetoric tradition.

Common hermeneutical challenges faced by pagan philosophers and patristic exegetes The following examination of common problems faced by both pagan and Christian readers, like the earlier-enumerated list of challenges facing Biblical hermeneuts, is more tidy in presentation than in practice. Because these containers cannot contain their contents, the rhetorical decision to organize this section around a core set of shared challenges means that different aspects of common hermeneutical solutions will be developed across multiple “challenges.” It should also be pointed out that the direction of influence between pagan philosopher and Christian thinkers was not symmetrical – flowing for the most part, except in the case of personal conversions, from pagan to Christian.

The challenge of unacceptable passages in authoritative texts All sophisticated cultures at some point become embarrassed by certain aspects of their own traditions. This becomes a hermeneutical problem when these traditions have been enshrined in venerated texts with authoritative moral status. Such was the case with Homer. Famously by Plato, but earlier by Xenophanes and Heraclitus, the Homeric texts were judged to be immoral and indecent. Not only did heroic characters act in petty, lustful, deceitful, violent and capricious ways, so did the very gods still worshipped throughout Athens. The hermeneutical solution, embraced according to Porphyry as early as the sixth century BCE by Theagenes of Rhegium regarding the battle of the gods in Iliad 20 (HQ 1.241.10–11), was not to reject the text, when possible, but to read “beneath the text” to discover its underlying meaning and deeper sense. Although this approach would be known 500 years later as allegorical, its initial spatially laden nomenclature, hyponoia (ὑπόνοια), was more conceptually influential in the practice of Biblical hermeneutics. Texts have levels. There are surface meanings and then deeper meanings “under” (ὑπο-) the surface. Suspect authoritative literary works, if you knew how to read them, bore hidden (non-embarrassing) truths not readily apparent when read “according to the letter.” In Xenophon’s Symposium, Socrates endorsed a hyponoetic approach to reading Homer in light of the many moral problems conveyed at the surface level and the pedagogical emptiness, therefore, of ignorantly parroting Homeric verses: “My father was anxious to see me develop into a good man,” said Niceratus, “and as a means to this end he compelled me to memorize all of Homer; and so even now I can repeat the whole Iliad and the Odyssey by heart.” 169

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“But have you failed to observe,” questioned Antisthenes, “that the rhapsodes, too, all know these poems?” “How could I,” he replied, “when I listen to their recitations nearly every day?” “Well, do you know any tribe of men,” went on the other, “more stupid than the rhapsodes?” “No, indeed,” answered Niceratus; “not I, I am sure.” “No,” said Socrates; “and the reason is clear: they do not know the inner meaning (τὰς ὑπονοίας οὐκ ἐπίστανται) of the poems. (Symp. 3.5–6) Although Socrates acknowledged a hidden meaning in Homer that aligned with Heraclitus (Theaeteus 152e), Plato found certain Homeric passages to be irredeemable even when read below the surface. As a result, he simply prohibited them in his ideal city – a luxury patristic exegetes could not exercise in respect to problematic passages in the Jewish Scriptures. “No, by heaven,” said he, “I do not myself think that they are fit to be told. . . . Hera’s fetterings by her son and the hurling out of heaven of Hephaestus by his father when he was trying to save his mother from a beating, and the battles of the gods in Homer’s verse are things that we must not admit into our city either wrought in allegory or without allegory (οὔτ’ ἐν ὑπονοίαις πεποιημένας οὔτε ἄνευ ὑπονοιῶν).” (Resp. 378b–d) The Alexandrian School, fundamentally identified with this hermeneutical approach, is associated with Philo, Clement, Origen, Didymus the Blind and the Cappadocians. Joseph Kelly described the high stakes in adopting this pagan hermeneutical strategy in respect to the Biblical commandment to kill everyone in Jericho (Deut. 7:1–2, Josh. 6:21): The Alexandrians simply could not believe that God would demand something like that, so they said the people of Jericho represent our sins and God wants us to eliminate them, right down to the tiniest one. Today this would sound like a forced interpretation, but in the third century, when exegetes faced either a barbarous literal interpretation or an allegorical one that preserved the beneficent view of God, the latter method saved the Bible for the Christians. (Kelly 1997: 119) Gregory of Nyssa (fourth century) bears witness to the continuity of this trajectory – and its opponents – in his introductory comments about his reading approach to the unacceptable sexuality in the Song of Songs: It seems right to some church leaders, however, to stand by the letter of the Holy Scriptures in all circumstances, and they do not agree that Scripture says anything for profit by way of enigmas and below-the-surface (ὑπονοίαις) meanings. For this reason I judge it necessary first of all to defend my practice against those who thus charge us. In our earnest search for what is profitable in the inspired Scripture there is nothing to be found unsuitable. Therefore, if there is profit even in the text taken for just what it says, we have what is sought right before us. On the other hand, if something is stated in a concealed manner by way of enigmas and below-the-surface meanings, and so is void of profit in its plain sense, such passages we turn over in our minds. . . . One may wish 170

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to refer to the anagogical interpretation of such sayings as “tropology” or “allegory” or some other name. We shall not quarrel about the name as long as a firm grasp is kept on thoughts that edify. (Cant. GNO VI, 5) Gregory’s defense of his practice of reading the Song of Songs states the problem very clearly: what does the believer do when the surface meaning of Scripture is “void of profit in its plain sense” and yet “in the inspired Scripture there is nothing to be found unsuitable?” Confronted with a text full of “enigmas,” “below-the-surface meanings” and a variety of hermeneutical approaches – anagogical, tropological, allegorical – he placed a higher priority on producing a profitable spiritual interpretation. That is, he didn’t care how one labeled his approach; all he cared about was the spiritual edification of those whom his commentary would make better readers of the Song of Songs. In a similar vein, Augustine’s hermeneutical principle of the “rule of love” (Doctr. chr., 3.10.16, 1.25–40) puts a higher priority on the spiritual impact of reading than getting the interpretation “right”: When so many meanings, all of them acceptable as true, can be extracted from the words Moses wrote, do you not see how foolish it is to make a bold assertion that one in particular is the one he had in mind. . . . In this diversity of true opinions, let Truth itself bring harmony; and may our God have pity upon us that we may use the law lawfully, for the end of the commandment which is pure charity. (Conf. 12.25) Although the allegorical approach recuperated Biblical passages “void of profit in [their] plain sense,” this was only its initial step. The next more important step, to be explored in the next section, was to discover positive spiritual meaning beneath otherwise unacceptable, obscure or insipid passages because “there is no letter in scripture which is empty of the wisdom of God” (Origen, Philoc. 1:28:19–20).

The challenge of reading texts believed to have a single, consistent voice Third-century-BCE Stoic readers of the early poets blurred hyponoetic reading with symbolic and etymological readings as an extension of their theological understanding of the cosmos. The ancient myths contained remnants of an original integration of language and the material manifestation of the Spirit of the world which could be discovered, if you knew how, beneath multiple layers of poetic alterations and accretions. The Stoic concept of textual layers, more archaeological than literary, allowed philosophers such as Zeno, Cletho and Chrysippus to not only explain away problematic passages as poetic additions but find positive, coherent theological meaning relevant to their present context. Hidden in Homer were the “seven roots of Greek theology” whose different characteristics could be combined to reveal the unitary divine force presiding over the world. The grammatical declination of Zeus (Ζεύς, Διός, Διί, Δία) justified the deeper theological reading of Zeus’s power to be that which “traverses everything” (διήκει) and “through” whom (διά) things exist and live (SVF 2.1021). Like the Antiochene criticism of Alexandrian exegetical excess, Cicero critiqued the Stoic allegorical hermeneutic as being arbitrary, fanciful and unrestricted (Nat. d. 1:36–43; 3:39–63). Heraclitus, writing in the second century CE, presented Homer as a theologian who deliberately wrote allegorically to conceal hidden truths for the initiated reader. 171

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A theological dimension to allegorical hermeneutics also became prevalent amongst later Platonists (Neoplatonists in current parlance), who searched for representations of universal truths in both particular passages and the larger structures of the Homeric poems. Based in an understanding that human language was limited in its ability to speak about transcendent truths, these later Platonists viewed the epic poems as symbolically touching upon enigmatic wisdom that could only be understood if read philosophically. Numenius of Apamea (a second-century Platonist who deeply influenced Plotinus and was quoted frequently by Eusebius) might have understood Homer’s Odyssey as the symbolic journey of the soul toward philosophical enlightenment (fr. 33). Porphyry’s “Cave of the Nymphs” read the descriptive particulars of the Ithacan cave in Odyssey 13 as symbols of divine perfection’s rational manifestation of the material cosmos. In the fifth century, Proclus found the emanation and return of Plotinus’s universal triad of Mind, Soul and the One in the Odyssey and defended Homer against Plato in his Commentary on Plato’s Republic. Like Christians reading the Jewish Scriptures, these pagan philosophers approached Homer with already-established theological imperatives and developed interpretive strategies to support them in their reading of the Homeric texts. Going beyond the Scriptures, Augustine defended reading the Platonists by arguing “every good and true Christian should understand that wherever he may find truth, it is his Lord’s” (Doctr. chr. 2.18.28).7 Plotinus, therefore, could be read with Christian spiritual profit because the Plotinian triad, the same one Proclus had found in Homer, represented the extent to which natural reason could grapple with the truth of the Trinity. Plotinus’s eros for absolute truth naturally vectored toward divine truth except in such cases as the incarnation and the cross, whose knowledge required revelation (Civ. 10.28–29). Porphyry, for his part, did not advocate in On the Philosophy from Oracles that all religions are ultimately the same but rather they all point to the supreme Platonist One. Clement, the second-century Alexandrian bishop and student of the Stoically trained, Christian convert Pantaenus, constructed in the Stromateis a genealogical reconciliation of pagan philosophy with Christian truth, demonstrating the inseparable connections between Hellenistic hermeneutics, rhetoric, philosophy and theology. Eusebius, the third-century church historian, in his Praeparatio Evangelica scoured pagan literature and philosophy for just such intimations of Christian truth. These examples of philosophical interaction are intimately connected with a way of reading truth. The particular challenge of reading the Bible as the product of a single and consistent theological voice, a single theological datum, has two main complicating factors: (1) a belief that all the inherited Jewish Scriptures spoke about Christ and (2) that every passage had spiritual relevance to contemporary Christians. Beginning with Jesus’s post-resurrection reading of the Scriptures (Luke 24:13–31) on “the road to Emmaus” (“And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures”), the entire corpus of the Jewish Scriptures must be taken as somehow speaking about the Christ of the New Testament. As Irenaeus states in the second century: “If anyone, therefore, reads the Scriptures with attention, he will find in them an account of Christ, and a foreshadowing of the new calling” (Haer. 4.26.1). Such a consistent Christological message is guaranteed by its single divine author whose intentions supersede the intentions (and at times the understanding) of the multiple human authors. John Chrysostom in his exegetical homilies on the Gospel of Matthew – the very idea of which admits to the difficulties of reading – lays out this principle in defense of Matthew’s otherwise hermeneutically obscure reference to Mary and the virgin birth of Jesus in Isaiah 7:14: “Hence he did not say simply that ‘All this took place to fulfill what was spoken by Isaiah’ but ‘All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet’ ” (Hom. Matt. 5.2). Chrysostom, who as a student of Diodore of Tarsus belongs to the ­Antiochene tradition, is careful to distinguish divine authorial intent from the human author 172

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Isaiah. The same divine author inspiring Matthew had access to the prophetic value of the words of Isaiah in a way other human interpreters, like the Alexandrians, would not.8 Unlike Plato, who could alter/create myths and reshape “historical” discussions, patristic exegesis began and ended with the fixed words of the Scriptures. They were forced to address texts, specific diction, multiple genres and concepts that the philosopher might otherwise avoid. Or as Gregory of Nyssa put it: Christians must “turn over such passages in our minds.” Sarah Coakley (2003: 8–11) speaks in Re-reading Gregory of Nyssa of the four stunning Trinitarian images that emerge in his homilies on the Canticum Canticorum as a direct result of having to contend with its strange specific diction. The patristic exegete’s creativity imitated Plato’s but in a more hermeneutically grounded manner that transformed an existing text’s meaning. That being said, Plotinus spent his philosophical career laboring over the very words and sentences in the texts of Plato, “turning over such passages in his mind,” and his immensely complicated and rich philosophical interpretation of Plato emerged from this same hermeneutical imperative. The second half of Irenaeus’s Christological reading principle is that the entire corpus of the Jewish Scriptures also speak to the “new calling” of Christ-centered spiritual life. Ambrosiaster (fourth century) identified the hermeneutical consequences of this: “The meaning deserves to be explored because divine scripture says nothing that would be useless or out of consideration” (Quaest. 10,1). To this end, Origen repeatedly cited Paul’s hermeneutical approach to the Jewish Scriptures (“These things were written for us” 1 Cor 10:11) to justify his own layered reading of the Jewish Scriptures in respect to the practical aspects of this “new calling” in Christ: The Apostle Paul, “Teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth,” taught the Church which he gathered from the Gentiles how it ought to interpret the books of the Law. These books were received from others and were formerly unknown to the Gentiles and were very strange. He feared that the Church, receiving foreign instructions and not knowing the principle of the instructions, would be in a state of confusion about the foreign document. For that reason he gives some examples of interpretation that we also might note similar things in other passages. . . . Let us see . . . what sort of rule of interpretation the apostle Paul taught us about these matters. Writing to the Corinthians he says in a certain passage, “For we know that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all were baptized in Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. And they drank of the spiritual rock which followed them, and the rock was Christ.” Do you see how much Paul’s teaching differs from the literal meaning? What the Jews supposed to be a crossing of the sea, Paul calls a baptism; what they supposed to be a cloud, Paul asserts is the Holy Spirit. . . . And not only Paul, but the Lord also says on the same subject in the Gospel: “Your fathers ate manna in the desert and died. He, however, who eats the bread which I give him will not die forever.” And after this he says, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” . . . What then are we to do who received such instructions about interpretation from Paul, a teacher of the Church? Does it not seem right that we apply this kind of rule which was delivered to us in a similar way in other passages? (Hom. Exod. 5:1) The tension between the “historical” meaning of a text and its superseding spiritual relevance resulted in a commentary tradition that addressed each. As many have pointed out (including Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 6.16), the Alexandrians, Origen in particular, were deeply committed to a historical, literal exegesis of the Bible; they simply did not stop there when the text presented “impossibilities” at the surface level (see Origen, First Principles IV.3.5). Gregory of Nyssa, for 173

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example, followed the structure of previous “Lives of Moses” by Philo and Clement by breaking his commentary into two sections: a “historical” reading of Moses’s life followed by a Christian “theoria” reading of Moses’s life driven by the imperative of spiritual relevance: It may be for this very reason . . . that the daily life of those sublime individuals is recorded in detail, that by imitating those earlier examples of right action those who follow them may conduct their lives to the good. What then? Someone will say, “How shall I imitate them, since I am not a Chaldaean as I remember Abraham was, nor was I nourished by the daughter of the Egyptian as Scripture teaches about Moses, and in general I do not have in these matters anything in my life corresponding to anyone of the ancients? How shall I place myself in the same rank with one of them, when I do not know how to imitate anyone so far removed from me by the circumstances of life?” (De vita Moysis, GNO VII/I, 6) Gregory’s theoretical reading of the life of Moses does not prioritize finding timeless theological truths but time-bound spiritual lessons for particular fourth-century believers who “do not have . . . anything in [their] life corresponding to anyone of the ancients.” Reading “then” historically and “now” spiritually always demands going beyond (or “beneath”) the text. Throughout Porphyry’s Quaestiones homericae,9 he argues for the hermeneutical principle that Homer explains himself: “Since I believe that it is right to clarify Homer with Homer, I used to point out that he explains himself, sometimes immediately, sometime in another passage” (HQ I, 56:4–6). The hermeneutical foundation that the Bible interprets itself is demonstrated throughout almost every patristic textual output by the overwhelming number of other passages used to illuminate a particular passage (Doctr. chr. 2.9.14). Whether reading Homer, the Bible or even Plato, the hermeneutic of prioritizing self-referential explanations rested on a presumption of consistent and coherent texts.

The challenge of textual distance and reading traditions Although one can readily grasp Origen’s observation that the Jewish Scriptures seemed culturally “foreign” to Gentile converts, it is easy to minimize the impact of the vast amounts of time separating various texts from those interpreting them. There is, for example, close to 600 years separating Plotinus from Plato. Porphyry’s reference to Theaganes’s allegorical approach to reading Homer stretches back over 700 years. When we say that Augustine read Plato, what we really mean is that he had primarily read Plato through Platonists like Plotinus, whose works had been written by Porphyry and then translated into Latin.10 The story of pagan philosophers and Church Fathers is a narrative of influence, not only of who taught whom, but who was reading whom. Pagan philosophers relied upon and wrote extensively on the interpretations of specific passages by others. Porphyry’s Quaestiones homericae is full of references to other readers, including Aristotle’s lost books on Homeric problems. Plotinus’s seminars would have begun with readings from previous Platonists, Aristotelians and Neopythagoreans – with an assumption of acquaintance with the source texts – followed by rigorous teaching and discussion of how all of this informed a living, contemporary Platonism. The place of Aristotle in the later Platonist tradition had interesting parallels with issues confronting Biblical hermeneutics. What status should Aristotle have as the most profound and direct disciple of Plato? Do his writings reflect the “unwritten teachings” of Plato to which only he would have access? Can Plato and Aristotle be fundamentally harmonized as advocated, according to Photius, by Ammonius Saccas? Pagan philosophers and patristic exegetes belonged 174

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to living traditions whose philosophy and theology were refracted through and took their place within centuries of interpretation.

The problem of biblical hermeneutics Although later Platonists strongly took into consideration how previous Platonists had read Plato, they felt free to critically reappraise Plato’s hermeneutical stances. Patristic exegetes, on the other hand, had to wrestle with divinely inspired exemplary readings of the Jewish Scriptures in the New Testament. Both Antiochenes and Alexandrians acknowledged, for example, Paul’s allegorical reading methods as presented in the earlier-given passage from Origen – this was indeed the “literal” reading of these passages. They differed, though, whether this gave them license “that we also might note similar things in other passages.” A recognizable Antioch way of reading – beginning in the second century with Theophilus, formalized in the late third century by Lucian’s founding of the didaskaleian, defended against Alexandrian excess by Diodore of Tarsus in the fourth century, widely disseminated by his student Chrysostom and then extended in the writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia – answered Origen’s rhetorical question by saying “no,” limiting such readings to those specifically sanctioned by the New Testament. They thought that Paul’s and the gospels’ inspired but otherwise unregulated reading of these passages would, if understood as a normative model of reading the Jewish Scriptures, result in any and all readings. As seen previously with Chrysostom’s handling of Matthew’s reference to Isaiah 7:14, they dealt with the many gospel fulfillment passages with the same hermeneutical restraint: the Holy Spirit, like Jesus on the road to Emmaus, had the right to make these prophetic connections, patristic exegetes did not.

Conclusion The fourth- and fifth-century debates between Christians and philosophers as to who were the true heirs of Platonism not only point to the deep influence of pagan philosophy and the larger Hellenistic episteme on patristic exegetes; they underscore the role texts played in their thinking. Both Platonism and Christianity, while looking beyond the material culture of language, navigated their search for the transcendent through living traditions of primary source texts, commentaries, transformative writings and textualized discourses in which speaking, writing and reading proved to be inseparable from thinking, acting, living and believing.

Notes 1 Simonetti 1994; Kannengiesser 2004; Cassiodorus’s Institutiones divinarum et saecularium litterarum (sixth century). Van Oort 2006 provides a wealth of additional insights regarding Biblical hermeneutics beyond the scope of this chapter. 2 Augustine asks God: quibus modis te insinuasti illi pectori?, “by what means did you steal into that breast?”, at Confessions 8.2. 3 See Spira (182) and Kennedy (1972), especially 330–337, 446–465. 4 See Peter Brown, Power and Persuasion in Late Antiquity (1992). 5 Basil frames his own conversion as a “turn” from the false promises of a sophistic reputation to the true promises of the gospel (Lettres III, CCXXIII). 6 Tertullian: “Truth persuades by teaching, but does not teach by persuading” (Against the Valentinians 1.4). 7 See Brown 2000: especially chs. 9–10. 8 Without divine inspiration, Justin Martyr indicates, the Christological dimensions of Is. 7:14 would have remained unknown: Trypho 68. 9 See MacPhail 2010: notes 27, 28. 10 See Edwards 2006 for an analysis of the Platonist tradition. 175

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Bibliography Brown, Peter (2000), Augustine of Hippo: A Biography with a New Epilogue, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Cameron, A. (1991), Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Coakley, S. (2003), Re-Thinking Gregory of Nyssa, Oxford: Wiley. De Lubac, H. (1959), L’exégèse médiévale: les quatre sens de l’écriture, 4 vols., Paris: Aubier. Edwards, M. J. (2006), Culture and Philosophy in the Age of Plotinus, Farnham: Ashgate. Gibbons, Kathleen (2015), “Moses, Statesman and Philosopher: The Philosophical Background of the Ideal of Assimilating to God and the Methodology of Clement of Alexandria’s Stromateis 1”, Vigiliae Christianae 69, 157–185. Kannengiesser, C. (2004), Handbook of Patristic Exegesis: The Bible in Ancient Christianity, 2 vols., Leiden: Brill. Kelly, J. F. (1997), The World of the Early Christians, Collegeville, MN: Michael Glazier. Kennedy, G. A. (1959), “The Earliest Rhetorical Handbooks”, American Journal of Philology 80, 169–178. Kennedy, G. A. (1972), The Art of Rhetoric in the Roman World, 300 B.C. – A.D. 300, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Lim, R. (1994), Public Disputation, Power and Social Order in Late Antiquity, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. MacPhail, J. (2010), Porphyry’s Homeric Questions on the Iliad: Text, Translation and Commentary, Berlin: De Gruyter. McCoy, M. (2008), Plato on the Rhetoric of Philosophers and Sophists, New York: Cambridge University Press. Partenie, C. (ed.). (2009), Plato’s Myths, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Simonetti, M. (1994), Biblical Interpretation in the Early Church, London: T&T Clark. Spira, A. (1982), “The Impact of Christianity on Ancient Rhetoric”, Studia Patristica XVII.2, 137–153. Stock, B. (1996), Augustine the Reader: Meditation, Self-Knowledge and the Ethics of Interpretation, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Van Oort, J. (2006), “Biblical Interpretation in the Patristic Era: A ‘Handbook of Patristic Exegesis’ and Some Other Recent Books and Related Projects”, Vigiliae Christianae 60, 80–103.

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Section 3

Schools

14 The Presocratics M. David Litwa

All who desire to do philosophy are present with us [Christians]. – Tatian, Oration 32.7

Introduction The pioneers of Greek wisdom flourished in the early sixth century BCE, and their work made possible the breakthroughs of all later philosophy, science, and theology. These initial thinkers did not rest in armchairs. They served as holy men, moralists, poets, and healers. The radical assumption behind their work was that the world as a whole is an intelligible structure with underlying principles accessible to human understanding. This assumption did not mean that the world was bare of mystery. Nature, as Heraclitus observed, loves to hide herself.

Traditions Beginning in the Hellenistic period (roughly 330 to 30 BCE), the philosophers prior to Socrates (or “Presocratics”) were variously grouped. First came the tradition of Ionia (on the west coast of Turkey) founded by Thales and including Anaximander, Anaximenes, and Anaxagoras. Second, a south Italian circle started with Pythagoras and included Philolaus, Archytas, and sometimes Empedocles (Hippolytus, Refutation 1.3). The Eleatics, also of south Italy, comprised Parmenides, Zeno, and the Atomists (most famously Democritus). Finally, there were the Sophists or traveling rhetoricians who helped to form the Greek educational system. Ancient writers often presented these groups as distinct schools linked by succession. In most cases, however, no real succession was involved, and the notion of a “school” is far too formal.

Sources In this chapter, we can only sample a few of these thinkers who became important for Christian thought, namely Empedocles, Parmenides, Heraclitus, Anaxagoras, and Pythagoras. Today the works of these figures exist only in fragments – the reports, paraphrases, and quotations of later 179

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authors, including Christians. During the time of the Christian fathers, the writings of the earliest philosophers were probably still available, though increasingly difficult to find. Like most readers of the time, Christians seemed to have learned their philosophy from “reader’s digest” versions (doctrinal summaries with occasional quotations). These digests, now dubbed “doxographies,” often pitted the views of individual philosophers against each other with no argument supplied. The doxographical format served early Christians’ interests, since they could portray the Greek philosophers as dogmatizers wrangling in cacophonous disagreement.1

Methodology If one elects to speak of the “influence” of the earliest philosophers upon early Christians, it is important to realize that Christians already interpreted much of the material that counts as influential. In other words, they largely determine the “data set” of interaction with the Presocratics, even if the interaction is unacknowledged. It is thus vital to understand the context of a philosophical quote in the Christian source. At the same time, however, one must distinguish several previous layers of interpretation. The understanding of the first philosophers had already been shaped by the intervening traditions of Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics. Thus the Presocratics, when engaged by Christians, were already refracted through several overlapping lenses. To understand the earliest philosophers, one also needs to recover (or rather reconstruct) earlier frames of reference. In this chapter, we briefly sketch both the earlier interpretive frames and some Christian interpretations from the second to the fourth centuries CE. By this time, Christianity began to pervade the educated classes. As a result, elite Christians were incited to present the most plausible theology. For this project, the earliest philosophers played a decisive role.

Rhetorical strategies When dealing with the earliest philosophers, Christian writers generally employed two strategies. First, they cited them, somewhat like the Hebrew prophets, to confirm a point of Christian teaching.2 Second, they portrayed them as well-meaning but ultimately failed thinkers grasping after a truth only fully realized by Christians. The anonymous author of the Refutation of All Heresies, who styles himself “high priest” of a Christian community in early third-century Rome, chose the second strategy (Refutation 1, preface 6). His narrative, somewhat simplified, can be summarized as follows. Long ago, the truth about God and the cosmos was known to a race of God-fearing folk. Yet the truth was soon lost and knowledge degraded over time (Refutation 10.30–31). Amidst the increasing ignorance, Greek philosophers searched for an ultimate principle (ἀρχή) of reality and found it in various material elements of this world (mainly water, earth, air, and fire). Then Christians rightly identified (or rediscovered) the ground of reality as an immaterial and transcendent creator. To quote the author: All these men [the Greek philosophers] declared these doctrines . . . according to their opinion about the nature and origin of the universe. They all, advancing to a point below the divine, busied themselves about the substance of generated [or created] reality. Each one, struck by the magnitudes of creation, supposing them to be divine, and preferring different parts of creation, did not acknowledge the God and Artificer of these things. (Refutation 1.26.3; cf. 4.43.2; 10.32.5)

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To the sophisticated ancient reader, this narrative would have failed. After all, it was Plato who spoke of an immaterial divinity (the Good) and an Artificer of the world (or Demiurge). Before him, Xenophanes spoke of “one God” who could move all reality with his mind. The philosopher Anaxagoras referred to a divine Mind, separate from matter, who organized it into the world we see today. In fact, much of what we find in ancient Christian theology has some precedent in earlier philosophy.

Empedocles To affirm, however, that there were precedents for Christian doctrines is not to say that any single philosophical system wholly conformed to Christian thought. According to Empedocles of Acragas (born about 492 BCE), for instance, human beings are fallen divinities (“daimones”) stuck fast in the vortex of a cosmic cycle that collapses into a singularity (called “Sphere”) and then, over time, splits into strictly separate elements. Within these cosmic cycles, divinities are exiled, incarnated, and reincarnated in lesser lifeforms until they attain human consciousness and the highest of human occupations. The way of escape is for a person to perform acts of purification (mainly, abstaining from killing) that prepare a person to enter a relatively stable form of existence as a daimonic being, also called a “god.” These gods Share the hearth with other immortals and sit at the same table, Without any share in men’s sufferings, unworn by time. (DK 31 B147 from Clement, Stromateis 5.14.122.3) Clement of Alexandria (born about 150 CE) quoted both scripture and Empedocles to confirm that the gnostic [or knower] can even now become a god: “I have said you are gods and sons of the Highest” (Ps 82:6); and Empedocles too says that the souls of the sages become gods, writing as follows: “In the end, they become seers, purveyors of hymns, doctors/and chiefs of humans upon the earth./Thereafter they bloom into gods finest in honor.” (DK 31 B 146 from Clement, Stromateis 4.23.150.1). Empedocles’s philosophy is also a story of redemption that selectively resembles later Christian thought. Origen of Alexandria (flourished 200–245 CE) speculated about the fall of human souls before their embodiment (First Principles 3.8.3–4). Other Christians like Basilides (flourished about 115–140 CE) affirmed a doctrine of reincarnation (Clement, Stromateis 4.12.83.2). A  doctrine of deification (humans becoming gods) became standard in eastern Christian thought. Empedocles’s doctrines, however, do not wholly match up with any later Christian teaching. There is no single creator in Empedocles’s system, only two divine (possibly personal) forces called “Love” and “Strife.” Love is the force that brings the elements of reality together, whereas Strife drives them apart. In the cosmic cycles, Love and Strife alternately attain dominance. There is no single creation; generation and destruction cycle eternally. There is no savior, although healers and holy men like Empedocles can show the way out of the wheel of reincarnation. Empedocles had a notion resembling sin, but it was governed by the greater force of Necessity.3 Philosophically minded Christians (e.g. Hippolytus, Refutation 7.29.16.23) adopted Empedocles’s notion of four elements (earth, air, fire, and water). Yet this is a perfect example of

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selective reinterpretation. Empedocles names the elements as divinities (Zeus, Hera, Aidoneus, and Nestis), a notion anathema to early Christians.4

Parmenides The philosophy of Parmenides cannot so easily be narrativized because it denies what stories require: change. Parmenides does, however, recount how he received his philosophy. He depicts himself as a young man riding in a chariot with glowing, whistling axles, guided by the daughters of the Sun. After passing through the awesome gates of Day and Night, he encounters an unnamed goddess who reveals to him two routes: the Way of Truth and the Way of Opinion. The Way of Truth sums up a revolutionary notion of reality (discussed later). The Way of Opinion gives the best account of reality assuming the presence of change. According to the Way of Opinion, the world emerges out of dense, heavy night and light, subtle fire. In the doxographic tradition, these two forms become the “principles” of earth and fire (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 9.21). The goddess admits that the Way of Opinion is illusory. Yet it is helpful to know the most plausible illusion just as, to use an analogy, it is useful to recognize counterfeit money. What then is the Way of Truth? Whatever reality is, the goddess reveals, it is. And whatever is is unchanging, stable, and complete. The world of changing phenomena, the world that humans see, is not the real world. Reality as such does not change, since if something changes, it is like saying that reality (which is stable) is mixed with non-reality. Yet it is impossible to speak – or even to think – of non-reality, because it does not exist. If reality came from what is not, one cannot explain how or why it arose. Reality must then have always been, and in stable form, though humans do not have the eyes to see it. It takes a special revelation to see reality as it is. Early Christians like Clement were aware of Parmenides’s two Ways, but interpreted them differently. For Clement, the Two Ways designated secret (true) and public (deceptive) teaching (Clement, Stromateis 5.9.59.6). Yet this same Clement elsewhere selectively forgot the Way of Truth, a strategy that allowed him to censure Parmenides as a materialist who deified fire and earth.5

Ex nihilo nihil fit Parmenides posited a fundamental principle followed by almost all later thinkers: nothing comes from nothing (DK 28 B8 7–10). For Parmenides, it did not make logical sense to say that something could come from nothing. Nothing does not exist, and reality cannot come from what does not exist. The upshot of this notion is that nothing in the cosmos is actually generated or destroyed. If anything exists, it has always existed in some form (compare the law of the conservation of energy in modern physics). Thus philosophers who wished to speak of the world’s creation had to posit some ungenerated stuff out of which known phenomena came from. In the second century CE, this stuff was usually called “matter” (ὕλη). For Christians, this primal matter corresponded to the chaotic waters over which the divine spirit hovered in Genesis 1:2.6 Some Christian theologians, beginning with Basilides, spoke of “creation from nothing.” What Basilides seems to have meant, however, is that creation came from God, who is so transcendent that he can be called “Nothing.”7 In this case, Christian theology never fully bucked the strictures of Parmenides. Even if God does not use preexistent matter to create, creation is still caused by a transcendent force – the God beyond being.

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Reality This tendency toward negative theology (denying predicates for God) is presaged by Parmenides. Parmenides described Being (or Reality) in mostly negative terms as ungenerated, imperishable, unchanging, whole, unshakeable, unending, one, continuous, not past, not future, but present.8 The Platonic tradition fused this description of Being with its understanding of divinity. Hence Christians easily referred the characteristics of Parmenidean Being to their personal deity.9 They often cited a verse from the Septuagint in which the Jewish god Yahweh proclaims: “I am he who is [or exists]” (Exod 3:14). Parmenides’s understanding of being as “whole” and “all-together” may also have prepared the ground for the gnostic Christian concept of deity as the Pleroma or “Fullness” of being.

Philosophy and revelation The form of Parmenides’s thought displays the fluid boundaries between philosophy and religion. Parmenides portrays himself as pursuing reality with religious fervor. His dogmatic attitude about his own righteousness and the rightness of his revealed philosophy can also be described as religious. Empedocles also appealed to a divine being – the Muse Calliope (mother of Orpheus) – to inspire his philosophy.10 He evidently considered his own poems to be the word of god.11 The revelatory form in which these philosophers put their theories is similar to the form in which many early Christians put their own theology (often right back into the mouth of Jesus).12 Both philosophers and early Christians were competing in a culture in which revealed truth often trumped human logic and empirical observation.

Xenophanes Xenophanes of Colophon (born about 570 BCE) can be credited with devising the first ­philosophical theology. He conceptualized a God that was not identical to any civic deity worshiped by the Greeks of his time. He harshly criticized the immorality of gods as depicted in poetry – setting a trend for both Plato and later Christians (e.g. Athenagoras, Embassy 20–30). For Xenophanes, God was one, stable, unborn, and dissimilar to human beings in both form and thought (DK 21 B23, 25–26). The denial that God is like humans in form and thought would seem to contradict Genesis 1:26, where God creates human beings in his image. Yet Christians like Clement interpreted Xenophanes’s word “form” (δέμας) solely in terms of bodily shape (Clement, Stromateis 5.14.109.1). The resemblance posited in Genesis 1:26 was thought to refer to rational similitude, even if God’s thoughts are far more sublime.

Monotheism? Despite his talk of “one God,” it would be wrong to call Xenophanes a monotheist. After all, he wrote that “God is one, greatest among gods and human beings.”13 Lesser gods exist under the one God. The oneness of God is thus not (or not solely) numerical, but describes the singularity of his power. When Christians called their God “one,” they likewise aimed to affirm a point about God’s supremacy (1 Corinthians 8.6). God is the greatest among other divine beings (such as spirits,

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angels, demons, and deified humans). Thales expressed a pervasive and long-lasting sentiment when he remarked: “everything is full of gods!”14

Heraclitus Although we possess over a hundred quotations from Heraclitus of Ephesus (born about 540 BCE), his philosophy resists any attempt to extract doctrine. Indeed, “doctrine” implies something too stable for Heraclitean thought. He is the philosopher of flux. Heraclitus’s words are deliberately riddling, hence his ancient nickname, “the Obscure.” Offered here are only some basic themes important for early Christian reception. According to Heraclitus, all things are held together in dynamic tension, what he called a “counterbalancing congruity.”15 All is change, and everything can be exchanged for the most vibrant element – “ever-living fire.”16 The unceasing process of change can be called “war,”17 “god,”18 “one,”19 and (reluctantly) “Zeus.”20 To illustrate the constant process, Heraclitus indicated that one cannot step into the same river twice.21 In modern terms, the river’s water molecules, bits of soil, and microscopic organisms are never in exactly the same place at any given time, and yet people recognize that the river is a single process that can be called by a single name.

Christian reception The author of the Refutation provides nineteen quotations from Heraclitus when locking horns with his opponents the Noetians. He understood the Noetians to confess that the Father and Son are “opposites” (an unborn deity and a born deity) who are in fact identical (Refutation 9.10.9–12). The author traced back this view to Heraclitus (Refutation 9.10.2). Heraclitus’s point, however, was not that opposites are identical, but that they exist in a “counterbalancing congruity.” Ironically, Heraclitus’s notion of tensile unity may have been closer to what Noetians meant by the union of Father and Son. In the heat of his argument, the writer of the Refutation transmits a fascinating Heraclitean quote: “Immortal mortals, mortal immortals: living their death, dying their life.”22 Whatever its interpretation, the quote breaks down normally firm barriers between gods and human beings. For a religion built upon the unity of God and humanity in Christ, the quote proved appealing. According to Clement, for example: That god [the Logos/Christ] becomes human. . . . Thus Heraclitus has rightly remarked, “Humans gods; god-humans,” for the meaning is the same [or: the Logos is the same]. It is a disclosed mystery: God is in a human being, and the human being is a god. (Clement, Pedagogue 3.2.1) Clement understood Heraclitus to say that an immortal being (the Logos/Christ) became mortal so that mortal beings could become immortal. Such an interpretation is close to the later formulation of Athanasius (born about 298 CE): “He [Christ] became human so that we could become God [or gods]” (On the Incarnation 54.2).

Logos During late antiquity, it was popular to attribute to Heraclitus the notion of a divine governing principle called “Logos.” This Stoic interpretation of Heraclitus was taken up by early Christians 184

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who referred to their mediating deity (Christ) as the “Logos” (John 1:1; Rev 19:13). Yet the meaning of logos is famously ambiguous. Heraclitus wrote: “Though the message/principle/ teaching (logos) exists, humans ever prove uncomprehending.” The author of the Refutation understood the quote to mean, “Humans prove uncomprehending of the eternal Logos.”23 A similar interpretation can be traced back to the Christian Justin Martyr (born around 100 CE), who viewed Heraclitus as a Christian insofar as he “lived with the Logos” (Justin Martyr, First Apology 46.3). The similarity of the Heraclitean and Christian logos is debatable. The Christian Logos is a world creator. Heraclitus denied that the world was created by any god.24 The idea of divinity as separate and distinct from cosmic processes would have seemed bizarre to Heraclitus. The cosmos itself is ever living. Perhaps Heraclitus would have agreed that the cosmos is ordered according to a rational pattern (logos), but this logos does not seem particularly congruent with human rationality (since humans prove ever uncomprehending!).25

Conflagration and resurrection In another Stoic reading of Heraclitus, the philosopher asserted that god is an intelligent fire that successively ordered and destroyed the world. Christians seized upon this interpretation since they preached a destruction of the elements by fire (2 Pet 3:10). Yet even Christians acknowledged the major difference. For the Stoicized Heraclitus, things are constantly being destroyed and regenerated. For Christians, there is a single end-time destruction and renewal.26 Perhaps the strangest Christian teaching attributed to Heraclitus is the resurrection of the flesh.27 Once again, this interpretation stems from a Stoic reading (Refutation 1.21.4–5). Some Stoics indicated that after the conflagration, the world – including human bodies – would be reconstituted in the same form. This teaching cannot be found in the preserved fragments of Heraclitus. The philosopher himself, moreover, set no store in human flesh. He famously called human corpses, “more worthy to be thrown out than feces.”28 In the biographical tradition (Tatian, Oration 3.2), Heraclitus fittingly perishes after smearing his whole body with dung!

Anaxagoras Anaxagoras of Clazomenae (born about 500 BCE) was the first philosopher who declared that the motive force of the cosmos was Mind (Νοῦς). Anaxagorean Mind was not only intelligent and purposeful, it was also considered divine (eternal, ageless, and supreme in power). Though it did not preexist all other elements, Mind was separate from them and the means of their organization.29 The church historian Eusebius quoted (or rather paraphrased) a line from Anaxagoras: In the beginning all things were mixed together. Yet Mind arrived to lead these things from disorder into order.30 To Eusebius, Anaxagoras’s Mind looked very much like the Christian Logos-creator, an invisible super-intellect who ordered the cosmos.31 Thus ironically – though Anaxagoras was condemned for blasphemy and atheism (reportedly for saying that the sun was a burning stone!) – Eusebius lauded him as the first philosopher to think correctly about God.32 To be sure, the Mind posited by Anaxagoras was not a personal deity, but philosophically minded Christians blended philosophical and scriptural portraits of deity with astonishing confidence. 185

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Pythagoras Although a shadowy figure, Pythagoras (born about 570 BCE) seems to have invented the concept of a stable soul. He conceived, that is, of a soul not as a gibbering shade (as in Homer), but an entity coherent enough to survive death and maintain a personality.33 By the time that the (Platonized) concept of soul (ψυχή) was transmitted to Christians, however, it functioned as a second, immortal self. Christians were happy to adapt this idea, even as they generally denied Pythagoras’s famous corollary: reincarnation.34

The Holy Man Pythagorean ideas were important for early Christians, but so was the image of Pythagoras itself. During late antiquity, this philosopher was reinvented to serve as the archetypal Hellenic holy man. He was the one who assimilated all sorts of barbarian wisdom (Egyptian, Hebrew, and Persian) and made it distinctly Greek. Pythagoras could perform miracles, speak to animals, walk on water, and teleport from one place to another – among other wonders. Pythagoras established not only a philosophical circle, but what one today would call a religious movement. Pythagoreans were required to follow certain rules, including a period of silence and the famous taboo against eating fava beans (Clement, Stromateis 3.3.24.2–3). There were at least two grades of membership, the “exoterics” and the “esoterics.” Only the esoterics, who had gone through an initiation, could learn the meaning of the master’s wisdom enshrined in riddles. At the end of his life, Pythagoras was reportedly burned or slaughtered at the hands of political opponents.35 The image of Pythagoras in early biographies may have influenced the evangelical portraits of Jesus. Gospel writers depicted Jesus as teaching a secret wisdom in parables, as having an inner circle of disciples, performing miracles, giving regulations for life, and being brutally murdered by his political enemies.36 Despite his tragic death and the scattering of his disciples, Jesus, like Pythagoras, established a viable community that long survived him. Nevertheless, it is probably more correct to say that the biographies of Jesus and Pythagoras were influenced by a common conception of the Hellenic holy man. The holy man was typically a sage with a philosopher’s beard and a special relationship with deity. Occasionally, the holy man could be depicted as a god in disguise. Some followers of Pythagoras, for instance, identified their master with Apollo of the Far North. This Apollo came “for the benefit and amendment of mortal life, to grant mortal nature the saving spark of happiness and philosophy.”37 A priest of this Apollo, a man called Abaris, reportedly recognized the divinity of Pythagoras. As a token of his recognition, Abaris was said to have given Pythagoras a golden arrow. Pythagoras did not refuse the token. He confirmed Abaris’s judgment by lifting up his tunic to unveil his golden thigh.38

Conclusion It is challenging to pinpoint trends in Presocratic thought later reflected in Christian theology. At present, nonetheless, we can isolate three items for further thought and exploration.

a)  The Intellectualization of God Whereas Greek civic and poetic theologies imagined the gods as super bodies (like modern superheroes), philosophical theologies began to imagine supreme divinity as a kind of supermind. For Empedocles, the god Sphere is “a holy and unspeakable Intelligence  .  .  . darting

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through the world order with swift thoughts.”39 In other words, the cosmos in its unitive phase is a God whose thought pulsates throughout its divine body (the entire world system in the state of perfect mixture).40 Xenophanes’s God “effortlessly shakes all things by the thought of his mind.”41 The same writer said that God “entirely sees, entirely thinks, entirely hears.”42 Similar formulations appear in Christian authors (without crediting Xenophanes). According to Clement, for instance, the Logos is “entirely mind . . . entirely eye,” (Clement, Stromateis 7.2.5.5) and “entirely hearing.”43

b) Anti-anthropomorphism The intellectualization of God goes hand in hand with the denial that deity has bodily traits. Empedocles described his Sphere: Two branches do not spring from its back, Nor feet, nor nimble knees, nor productive genitals.44 Xenophanes was perhaps the most incisive critic of Greek anthropomorphic theology. Mortals suppose that the gods are born, that they have their own clothes, voice, and form.45 Admittedly, Christians preached that their god was born and had human form (Tatian, Oration 21.2). Yet they distinguished this “son of God” figure from a non-anthropomorphic high God (the Father). By viewing this deity as bodiless, Christians were riding a wave of philosophical sophistication. By the second century CE, educated Greeks widely denied that their gods resembled their human-shaped statues. Celsus, second-century critic of Christianity, quoted Heraclitus: “These are similar acts: to approach lifeless gods and to hold a conversation with a house.”46

c) Skepticism Skepticism regarding the senses characterized several of the earlier philosophers. Heraclitus wrote that, “In their knowledge of visible things, people are easily fooled.”47 Invisible beings like gods could also be doubted. Xenophanes wrote that, No man has seen nor will anyone know the clear truth about the gods. . . . Even if, with optimal luck, one speak what perfectly befalls, One would still not know. Opinion is allotted to all.48 Similarly Empedocles: “It is impossible to approach it [the divine] to attain it with our eyes/ or grasp it with hands.”49 By the second century CE, such skepticism led to a felt need for divine inspiration in order to obtain secure knowledge. Parmenides and Empedocles openly portrayed their philosophy as rational revelations. Christians followed suit and so were able to market philosophically plausible notions of God with the assurance of dogmatic certainty.

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We can conclude that Christians were creative, if selective interpreters of the earliest Greek philosophical heritage. Though this heritage was felt to fall short of (their) revealed truth, Christians often praised it as reflecting accurate notions about both God and the world. In the end, by attempting to distinguish their views from the clashing opinions of the philosophers, educated Christians showed that they were steeped in Mediterranean intellectual culture, conditioned by its perceptions of plausibility, and very much children of their time.

Notes 1 Tatian, Oration 25.4: “you fractious [philosophers], since you possess different dogmatic traditions, you war amongst yourselves, disagreeing with those in agreement with you!” Cf. ibid., 3.7. 2 Sometimes the earliest philosophers were said to depend on the Hebrew prophets by virtue of coming later than them. This is the main thesis of Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel, book 10, who cites earlier sources. 3 DK 31 B115, partially from Refutation 7.29.16, 23. See also Origen, Against Celsus 8.53. 4 Galatians 4:9; Athenagoras, Embassy 22.1–3, 12; cf. Hippolytus, Refutation 7.29.23. 5 Clement, Protreptic 5.64.2. The same (mis)reading appears in Refutation 1.11.1. 6 Justin Martyr 1 Apol. 10.2; cf. 59.1; 67.8. 7 Refutation 7.20.2–7.22.2; cf. 10.33.8. 8 DK 28 B8.3–6 partially quoted in Clement, Stromateis 5.14.112.2 as referring to “the divine.” 9 Refutation10.33.1, “the Father himself is Being” (reading τὸ ὄν). 10 DK 31 B131 from Ref. 7.31.4. 11 DK 31 B23.11. Empedocles judged himself to be a god (B112.4–6). 12 See, e.g., the Secret Book of John (NHC II,1) and the Wisdom of Jesus Christ (NHC III,4). 13 DK 21 B23 from Clement, Stromateis 5.14.109.1, emphasis added. 14 DK 11 A22, from Aristotle, On the Soul 1.5, 411a8. “Gods” here could presumably refer to any natural forces. 15 DK 22 B51 from Refutation 9.9.2. 16 DK 22 B30 from Clement, Stromateis 5.14.104.2. 17 DK 22 B53 from Refutation 9.9.4. 18 DK 22 B67 from Refutation 9.10.8. 19 DK 22 B50 from Refutation 9.9.1. 20 DK 22 B32 from Clement, Stromateis 5.14.115.1. 21 DK 22 A6 from Plato, Cratylus 402a. 22 DK 22 B62 from Refutation 9.10.6. 23 DK 22 B1 from Refutation 9.10.3. 24 DK 22 B30 from Clement, Stromateis 5.14.104.2. 25 Cf. DK 22 B34 from Clement, Stromateis 5.14.115.3: “[Humans are] uncomprehending; even when they have heard, they are like deaf people.” 26 Tatian, Oration 25.4. To make sense of Heraclitus’s non-creationism, Clement attributed to him two worlds: one eternal, another perishable. These worlds are somehow one (Stromata 5.14.104.1–5; cf. 5.1.9.4). 27 Clement of Alexandria, Strom. 5.1.9.4; Refutation 9.10.6–7. 28 DK 22 B96 from Origen, Against Celsus 5.14, 24. 29 Anaxagoras’s account of Mind paved the way for Plato’s depiction of the Demiurge (or Creator) in the Timaeus 28–29. 30 Quoted in Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel 10.14.12. 31 For Christians, it was important that God was separate from matter (Athenagoras, Embassy 4.1). In the first century CE, the doxographer Aetius already interpreted Anaxagoras’s Mind to be God (1.7.5, 15). 32 Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel 14.14.8–9; 14.16.12. 33 DK 14 B8a from Porphyry, Life of Pythagoras 19, quoting Dicaearchus (fourth century BCE) frag. 33 Wehrli2. 34 Justin Martyr, First Apology 18.5. The notion of reincarnation could also be adapted to resurrection: “nothing according to Pythagoras . . . prevents bodies being reconstituted from the same elements” (Athenagoras, Embassy 36.3). 35 Athenagoras, Embassy 31.2. In other accounts, an elderly Pythagoras starved himself as the result of opposition.

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3 6 Mark 1:23–2:12; 4:9–13; 8:1–9; 9:2; 15:1–39. 37 Iamblichus, Life of Pythagoras, 30, cf. 140. Pythagoras as Apollo incarnate goes back to Aristotle (frag 191, Rose). See also Aelian, Varied History 2.26, Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Philosophers 8.11. 38 Iamblichus Life of Pythagoras 91–92, 140–141. The pattern of confession plus revelation of deity is similar to what we find in the gospels. Peter confesses the true identity of Jesus (“son of the living God”); then, in a blaze of glory, Jesus reveals his deity on a mountain (Mark 8:27–9:8). 39 DK 31 B134 from Ammonius, Commentary on Aristotle’s Interpretation 249.1. 40 In the doxographical tradition, Thales says that God is the mind of the cosmos (Aetius 1.7.11 [Stobaeus], followed by Athenagoras, Embassy 23.4). Cicero (Nature of the Gods 1.10.25) depicts the god of Thales as a mind that forms all reality out of water. He is closely followed by the Christian author Minucius Felix (Octavius 19.4). 41 DK 21 B25 from Simplicius, Commentary on Aristotle’s Physics 23.19. 42 DK 21 B24 from Sextus Empiricus, Against the Mathematicians 9.144. 43 Clement, Strom. 7.7.37.6. Compare Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.12.2 (God is “entirely mind  .  .  . entirely vision, entirely hearing”); 2.13.3 (“entirely spirit, entirely hearing, entirely vision”); Eugnostos the Blessed (NHC III, 3) 73.9–10: God is “all mind, thought, reflection.” 44 DK 31 B29 from Refutation 7.29.13. 45 Clement, Stromateis 5.14.109.1; cf. 7.4.22.1. 46 DK 33 B5 from Origen, Against Celsus 1.5, cf. 7.62. The thought may be that the god inhabits the statue as a person inhabits a house. The text is also quoted by Clement, Protreptic 4.50.4 to prove that statues lack sensation. Cf. Athenagoras, Embassy 23.1–2. 47 DK 22 B56 from Refutation 9.9.6. 48 DK 21 B34. The latter two lines are quoted in Refutation 1.14.1. 49 DK 31 B133 from Clement, Stromateis. 5.12.81.2.

Suggestions for Further Reading In the previous text, DK is the abbreviation for the standard edition of the Presocratics, H. Diels and W. Kranz, Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, Hildeshiem: Wiedmann, most recently 2004–2005. Betegh, G. (2006), “Greek Philosophy and Religion”, in M. L. Gill and P. Pellegrin (eds.), A Companion to Ancient Philosophy, Oxford: Blackwell, 625–639. Betegh, G. (2014), “Pythagoreans, Orphism and Greek Religion”, in Carl A. Huffman (ed.), A History of Pythagoreanism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 149–166. Bremmer, Jan (2002), The Rise and Fall of the Afterlife, London: Routledge, chapter 2. Hershbell, J. P. (1973), “Hippolytus’ Elenchos as a Source for Empedocles Reexamined, II”, Phronesis 18.3, 187–203. Huffman, Carl (2009), “The Pythagorean Conception of the Soul from Pythagoras to Philolaus”, in Dorothy Frede and Burkhard Reis (eds.), Body and Soul in Ancient Philosophy, Berlin: de Gruyter, 21–43. Lesher, James H. (1983), “Xenophanes’ Scepticism”, in John P. Anton and Anthony Preus (eds.), Essays in Ancient Greek Philosophy, 2 vols., Albany: SUNY Press, 20–40. Mansfeld, Jaap (1988), “Compatible Alternatives: Middle Platonist Theology and the Xenophanes Reception”, in R. van den Broek, T. Baarda and J. Mansfeld (eds.), Knowledge of God in the Greco-Roman World, EPRO 112, Leiden: Brill, 92–117. Mansfeld, Jaap (1992), Heresiography in Context: Hippolytus’ Elenchos as a Source for Greek Philosophy, Philosophia Antiqua 56, Leiden: Brill. Primavesi, Oliver (2008), “Empedocles: Physical and Mythical Divinity”, in Patricia Curd and Daniel W. Graham (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Presocratic Philosophy, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Robinson, T. M. (2008), “Presocratic Theology”, in Patricia Curd and Daniel W. Graham (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Presocratic Philosophy, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 485–500. Schwab, Andreas (2012), Thales von Milet in der frühen christlichen Literatur: Darstellungen seiner Figur und seiner Ideen in den griechischen und latienischen Textzeugnissen christlicher Autoren der Kaiserzeit und Spätantike, Studia Presocratica 3, Berlin: De Gruyter.

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Trépanier, Simon (2010), “Early Greek Theology: God as Nature and Natural Gods”, in Jan N. Bremmer and Andrew Erskine (eds.), The Gods of Ancient Greece: Identities and Transformations, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 273–317. Tzamalikos, P. (2015), Anaxagoras, Origen and Neoplatonism: The Legacy of Anaxagoras to Classical and Late Antiquity, Berlin: De Gruyter.

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15 Socrates and Plato in the fathers Joseph S. O’Leary

Unassimilable Socrates The Christian encounter with Socrates and Plato begins with the sublime figure of Justin Martyr who imitated both Socrates and Jesus in his own life and death. His conversion narrative is modeled on Plato, Apology 21a–22e, and follows a pattern also found in Dio Chrysostom, Galen, Lucian, Josephus, Clement (Stromateis 1.11.2): an urge to find the truth; travel to reputed teachers, disappointment with them, and a concluding statement of an individual position.1 Justin calls Christianity “the only reliable philosophy” (Trypho 8), but he saw Socrates as a martyr to a truer concept of God. Harnack notes that it is Socrates’ death that seals his teaching and gives it the significance of opening up the Greeks to a transcendent vision. But the gulf between Socrates and Christians remains: “He summoned to wisdom; they to faith. He accepted the gods as valid; they saw them as demons. He showed the way to self-redemption; they knew a Redeemer and hoped in him.”2 So much is Justin under Socrates’ spell that he attributes the teachings of the Timaeus to Socrates (Second Apology 10) rather than to Plato or the speaker of the dialogue, a short circuit that enhances his image of Socrates as the one among the Greeks who most reflects the Logos: “Those who have lived in accordance with the Logos are Christians, even though they were called godless, such as, among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus” (First Apology 66). Curiously, in second-century Platonism “Socrates himself has receded from view to an extraordinary degree,”3 so that Justin’s retrieval of him might betoken a seriousness about reason and truth lacking in the school Platonists. “Justin is deeply convinced that the condemnation of Christians is really a continuation of that of Socrates.”4 His Hellenophobic disciple Tatian made an exception for Socrates: “There is only one Socrates” (Or. 3). Theophilus of Antioch deplores Socrates’ swearing by the dog, the goose and the plane tree and concludes that he had no knowledge of truth and that his death was in vain (To Autolycus 3.2). (Yet a later bishop, Basil, found Christlike virtue in Socrates: Advice to Young Men 7.9). Lucian asserts that Christians called their Teacher “the new Socrates” (Death of Peregrinus 12), and Galen admires their Socratic contempt for death, which, however, Marcus Aurelius (Meditations 11.3) finds to be too noisy, and inferior to the more reflective earnestness of Socrates.5

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Harnack deplores the vandalism of Tertullian for whom Socrates, an idolator and a corrupter of youth, misled by a demon, could not think clearly about the soul on the eve of his execution. “All the wisdom of Socrates, at that moment, proceeded from the affectation of an assumed composure, rather than the firm conviction of ascertained truth” (On the Soul 1). Yet, as Harnack notes, Tertullian retained a sneaking regard for Socrates, and defends his swearing by dogs and trees as a satire on heathen belief. Minucius Felix and Novatian saw Socrates as a seduced and seducing thinker, an “Attic jester” (Octav. 38.5). Cyprian, in On the Futility of Idols, denounces Socrates, who “declared that he was instructed and ruled at the will of a demon” (whereas Plato, “maintaining one God, calls the rest angels or demons,” a remark quoted approvingly by Augustine, On Baptism 6.87). Lactantius praises Socrates for abstaining from uncertain scientific speculation but not for his embrace of the proverb, “That which is above us is nothing to us” (Divine Institutes 3.20). He adds that under the teaching of Socrates, it did not escape the notice of Plato, that the force of justice consists in equality. . . . Marriages also, he says, ought to be in common; so that many men may flock together like dogs to the same woman. (Inst. 21) Yet Lactantius speaks with respect of Socrates’ daemon (Epitome 23.2) and his alleged suppression of knowledge (26.5), though ironically remarking on how little one can expect to learn from someone who so often declares his own insipientia (35.2); Socrates is a testimony to the impotence of reason without revelation. For Plato, who attested one God (Epitome 4.1), Lactantius uses Cicero’s epithet “deum philosophorum” (33.1) and say that he comes closer to the truth than any other philosopher, though falling into monstrous errors. Arnobius likewise speaks of Plato, “ille sublimis apex philosophorum et columen” (Adv. Nat. 1.8); “homo prudentiae non pravae et examinis iudiciique perpensi” (2.14); “Plato ille divinus multa de deo digna nec communia sentiens multitudini” (2.36); “Platonem illum magnum pie sancteque sapientem” (2.52). For Ambrose, Plato is the “prince of philosophers” (On Abraham 1.1.2) and the “father of philosophy” (2.7.37), who went to Egypt to learn Mosaic and prophetic lore (On the Psdalms 118.18.4), perhaps reading Hebrew (De Noe 24). Ambrose’s De bono mortis is steeped in the Phaedo. Jerome writes of Plato: The influential Athenian master with whose lessons the schools of the Academy resounded became at once a pilgrim and a pupil choosing modestly to learn what others had to teach rather than over confidently to propound views of his own. Indeed his pursuit of learning – which seemed to fly before him all the world over – finally led to his capture by pirates who sold him into slavery to a cruel tyrant. Thus he became a prisoner, a bond-man, and a slave; yet, as he was always a philosopher, he was greater still than the man who purchased him. (Ep. 53.1) “Augustine took the last step through his frightful theory that all the virtues of the heathens are but glittering vices. This first plunged into dark night the great and sublime achievements of antiquity.”6 In fact, the phrase “splendida vitia” is never used by Augustine, and it is of Roman virtues (which he admires) rather than Platonic aretê or noesis that he expresses occasional criticism (for instance in discussing Lucretia’s suicide). Harnack sees in Augustine the beginning of the insight that “Greek philosophy and Christianity are two specifically distinct quantities and that each must be viewed by itself and assessed according to different criteria,” in contrast to the amalgam of philosophy and Christian belief in the apologists.7 192

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However, Augustine lauds Socrates and Plato in City of God 8.3–4, going on to urge that Platonism is the primary dialogue-partner in matters of theology. That Augustine had some acquaintance with the Greek text of Plato is suggested by his comment on Socrates’ style of speech (“lepore mirabili disserendi et acutissima urbanitate”). But more likely he is echoing Cicero’s eulogies of Socrates, as he does in asking if Socrates turned to ethics taedio rerum obscurarum et incertarum or because nolebat inmundos terrenis cupiditatibus animos se extendi in divina conari. Cicero has Varro say: Socrates was the first (this is a point accepted by all) to summon philosophy away from the obscure subjects nature itself has veiled . . . and to direct it towards ordinary life. He set it onto investigating virtue and vice and good and bad in general, considering celestial subjects to be far beyond our knowledge. (Tusculan Disputations 4.16; cf. 5.10; Academics 1.15)8 As a wise and authoritative churchman, Augustine is aware not only of his personal debt to Plato (via Cicero, Plotinus, Porphyry, Ambrose, and the circle of Milanese Platonists) but of how deeply Platonism had shaped the Christian understanding of God. He sees Plato as uniting Pythagoras’ contemplative with Socrates’ active wisdom. Harnack forgets how central Neoplatonism is to Augustine’s thinking on God, so much so that he is sometimes cited today as one who abolishes the distinction between philosophy and theology rather than heightening it: though in reality, even more lucidly than his predecessors, he insists on the necessity of the initium fidei. Socrates animates the satirical pen of Jerome: “Socrates had two wives. . . . He was accustomed to banter them for disagreeing about him, he being the ugliest of men” (Against Jovinian 1.48). Cassian tells how Socrates, when accused of having “the eyes of a paiderastos” (which Cassian translates as “corrupter of boys”), replied, “Such I am, but I restrain myself ” (Conferences 12.5).9 But such tittle-tattle is not confined to the Latins. Gregory Nazianzen tells how Socrates picked out handsome Charmidai (plural of Charmides) for preferential sharing of divine wisdom: “May such speculations perish!” (Poems 1.2.10, vv. 288–292 [PG 37: 700–701]). For John Chrysostom, Socrates, in his insincere discourses, had an eye to fame (On Acts of the Apostles 36.2). His suicide was illicit, and was forced on him, and cost him little since he was so old (On 1 Corinthians 4.4).

Doxic Plato Socrates tends to vanish from the Christians’ radar screen, but Plato remains a common reference, and still more a powerful invisible presence, in that fundamentals of his thought become part of the backbone of Christian theology. As Étienne Gilson noted, the Christians had no precise doctrine on being and the one, but only on the world’s origin and the soul’s destiny. On this ground they met Plato: Not, indeed, the Plato of the Parmenides or the Sophist, but the Plato of the Timaeus and the great myths about the future life; thus not what for Plato counted as science but what he had relegated to the domain of probable opinion.10 Doxography trumps analysis and dialectic rusts unused. Second-century Christian writers did not have a vast ecclesiastical literature to draw on, and risked being drowned out by the prolific Gnostics. The figure of Plato loomed larger for them 193

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than for later Christians, for in his conceptions of the divine and of moral and spiritual life, Plato offered more points in common with the Christian vision than any other figure from the classical world.11 Even Irenaeus, whose “literature was the Bible”12 and who held philosophy in low esteem (Against Heresies 2.14.3–4), nonetheless cites Plato against Marcion: “he acknowledged that the one and the same God is both just and good” (3.25.5), and draws on Plato’s distinction of being and becoming (4.38–39). Tertullian, too, knows Plato well, jousting with him in defence of the soul’s corporeality (On the Soul, 6–8), denying its preexistence and transmigration (4), yet agreeing on its simplicity (10); he takes issue with Plato’s mistrust of the senses and his theory of Ideas, which he sees as anticipating the Gnosticism of Valentinus (17–18). The fullest Christian appropriation of Plato occurs in Clement of Alexandria’s Stromateis. Encouraging his Christian readers to move from simple faith to mature gnosis, Clement draws on Paul and Plato together like a virtuoso playing on two keyboards. Plato can support the lower motivation of martyrdom, hope of future reward, but also the higher spirit of the truly gnostic martyr (Stromateis 4). His philosophy can serve as a propaedeutic to faith (along the lines mapped by Plato’s own account of the role of such disciplines as dialectic, astronomy, geometry, in Republic 527–533), but it also embraces mystical insights which close the gap between the Greeks and the “barbarian philosophy” or “Christian philosophy.” Middle Platonism shaped the patristic reception of Plato, and the texts that Alcinous, Numenius, Celsus, Apuleius favoured, such as Timaeus 28c (“To discover the father and author of this universe is a feat, and when he is discovered he cannot be communicated to all”) and Ep. 2, 312e (“All things are around the King of the Universe. . . . The second things are around the second and the third around the third”), recur in many Christian writers, e.g. Justin 1 Apol. 60: “He gives the second place to the Word who is with God, who, as he stated, is placed in the universe in the form of the letter X, and the third place he attributes to the Spirit”; Athenagoras (Leg. 6; 23), Tertullian (Apol. 46), Minucius Felix (Octav. 19), Clement (Stromateis 5.103.1), Origen (Against Celsus 6.18–19), Cyril (Against Julian 1.47) and Theodoret (Cure 2.42; 72; 4.38). The obscure formula in Ep. 2 served to generate the Platonist triad of the Good, the Mind, and the Soul (Eusebius, Preparation 11.20; Plotinus, Enn. 6.7.42), and lies behind Origen’s discussion of the hierarchically disposed roles of Father, Son, and Spirit. The Timaeus quote is applied to the highest God and not the Demiurge in all these writers, and the non-biblical designation of God as father or author of the universe is absorbed into Christian diction: “We are indeed faced here with the constitution of Christian theological language starting from Plato.”13,14 But there is a subtler presence of Plato in the patristic familiarity with the most basic Platonic categories: “participation” (metousia, metokhê) is used by Origen not only to envision virtues as participation in justice as a Platonic form (Commentary on John 2.52), but even to conceive the ontological status of the divine Logos (Commentary on John 2.17); homoiôsis occurs often with reference to the soul as created in the image and likeness of God; and the general distinction between the ideal noetic world and the instable sensible world underlies the allegorical method in scriptural exegesis.15 Philo is the great precursor of this Christian Platonism, particularly for Clement of Alexandria.16 Philo refashioned the Timaeus along the lines of Genesis, and used key terms of Plato to show that Moses was the greater philosopher. Philosophy, “than which no more perfect good has come into the life of mankind” (Making of the World 54), was born out of “the love and desire (erôta kai pothon) of knowledge” (77) and the scrutiny of the stars. This language consummates an entente between Plato and the Bible, which, despite the condescending or disparaging tone often adopted toward Plato, shaped in depth the Christian theological discourse initiated by the apologists. The Fathers might put Plato at a distance, but they could not shake off the Platonic thought-forms that had lodged in their minds. 194

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The complexity of the interaction between Christian theology and Platonism is already on display in the hermeneutical battle over Justin renewed by Niels Hyldahl,17 who sees Justin as making a merely extrinsic apologetical use of Plato, and by J. C. M. van Winden18 and Robert Joly,19 who stress Justin’s commitment to philosophical rationality. Similar battles continue to rage around Origen and Gregory of Nyssa. Even if one concedes that Justin’s work does not represent a mixture, compromise, fusion, or synthesis between Platonism and Christianity, nonetheless his apologetic engagement with Platonism inevitably shapes his effort to give a theoretical articulation of his faith. Though like Origen later he writes “against Plato,” at the same time he enacts the “Christian appropriation of Plato” that will be more richly continued by Clement of Alexandria.

Plato’s dependency on Moses As the Logos spermatikos, Christ had sown some knowledge of these truths in pagan minds: Each spoke well, according to the part present in him of the divine logos, the Sower. . . . Whatever things were rightly said among all people are the property of us Christians. For next to God, we worship and love the logos who is from the unbegotten and ineffable God. (2 Apol. 13) In addition, the philosophers borrowed insights from Moses (1 Apol. 44; 59–60); this is secondary to, and in tension with, the Logos spermatikos idea and is not yet presented polemically (as in Tatian, Or. 40) or called a “theft” in light of John 10:8 (as in Clement, Stromateis 1.20.100; 5.14). Both sources yielded only a confused version of the truth. Despite his view of the anima naturaliter christiana (Apol. 17), Tertullian emphasizes Plato’s theft from Moses (Apol. 46–47). Tatian thinks Plato must have derived his correct teachings not from Pythagoras (as Hippolytus holds, Ref. 6.21–28) but from Moses. Celsus reverses the charge that Plato borrowed from Moses and misunderstood him; rather the Jews and Christians plagiarize and misunderstand Greek wisdom,20 a charge repeated by Julian. Like all Greek thinkers, Plato wandered in the East, where he picked up Mosaic lore (Clement, Stromateis 1.101; 150). Origen shares this view (Against Celsus 4.39). The topos has roots in Jewish apologetic, and was taken up also by the Gnostics. It was entrenched in Christian apologetics down to Theodoret, John Philoponus (On the Eternity of the World 6.28), George Hamartolos, and the Suda. Following a lost work of Ambrose, Augustine (On Christian Doctrine 2.43; Letter 34) thought that Plato had met Jeremiah in Egypt and might have studied Hebrew.21 Later, Augustine noticed the chronological impossibility of such an encounter (Retractations 2.4; City of God 8.11), yet still says that what most inclines him “almost to assent to the opinion that Plato was not ignorant of those writings” is the shared conviction of Exodus 3:14 and Plato that “compared with Him that truly is, because He is unchangeable, those things which have been created mutable are not,” for which Augustine knows no other precedent (City of God 8.11). According to a recent editor, the anonymous, probably late third-century, Cohortatio ad Graecos presents defective “human wisdom” in chapters  2–7 and the “wisdom of God” in ­chapters  14–34 (see 1 Corinthians 2:12–13).22 The philosophers were constrained by divine providence to utter things favourable to Christianity, especially those who corrected their wrong ideas about God after picking up Mosaic lore in their sojourns in Egypt (14.2). But this is overoptimistic, for the critique of the philosophers’ misunderstandings of what they borrowed from Moses prevails to the end.23 Plato veiled the truth he learned in Egypt (such as the ontology of 195

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Exodus 3:14–15) for fear of the hemlock, and cultivated an ambiguous discourse that could be taken as affirming or denying the gods (20.1; referring to Timaeus 41a). The Middle Platonic tenets that matter is uncreated and is the source of evil are attributed to him (20.2). The distinction of being and becoming in Timaeus 27d is said to reproduce the teaching of Moses (22.2). Plato lies by having the Demiurge describe the gods as generated but also incorruptible (Timaeus 41b) – a sop to the polytheists he feared (23.1). His theory of Ideas is a misunderstanding of Moses’ account of the eidos, paradeigma, tupos of the Tabernacle (29). In this account, what Plato learned from Moses is a muddled miscellany, too crisscrossed with concealments and misunderstandings to clearly attest “divine wisdom.” Following Philo in a Platonic discussion of virtues, Clement places the primary emphasis on the mystical theme of “becoming like unto God as much as possible” (Theaetetus 176b), correlated with the “likeness” of Gen 1:26 (Stromateis 2.100.3; 131.5). The distinction between philosophy and theology was making itself felt in the second century but was not steadily focused, coming near to fusion in Clement and to an abrupt dissociation in Tertullian. Origen has the most comprehensive vision, accepting that certain universal ideas, Stoic koinai ennoiai, explain the commonalties between philosophers and Christians (Against Celsus 1.4).

Origen: Plato Sublated Gregory Thaumaturgus praises his teacher Origen somewhat as Alcibiades did Socrates, and describes him as sometimes assailing us in the genuine Socratic fashion, and again upsetting us by his argumentation whenever he saw us getting restive under him, like so many unbroken steeds, and springing out of the course and galloping madly about at random, until with a strange kind of persuasiveness and constraint he reduced us to a state of quietude under him by his discourse. (Panegyrical Oration 7) Gregory does not mention Plato by name, and one gathers that Origen focused not on the intricacies of dialectic but on broad clashes of opinion between philosophers, to be resolved in light of Christian wisdom (14). This philosophical pedagogy nonetheless undercuts the currently fashionable claim that a distinction of philosophy from theology would make no sense to the Fathers. While Origen used Plato for apologetic and propaedeutic purposes, he did not welcome him, at least by name, into the inner spheres of theology or preaching. Yet “his hermeneutics allows him to find the Platonic doctrine of God in biblical texts, raising the question of his fidelity to the Bible or to philosophy, . . . whether he Christianizes Plato or Platonizes the Bible.”24 A school of German scholars have recently promoted a vision of Origen as a, or even the, philosopher of freedom.25 Already in Plato the lot of souls is determined by their behaviour. When Origen exclaims, “if you take away the element of free will from virtue, you also destroy its essence” (Against Celsus 4.3; trans. Chadwick), he recalls Plato, Republic 617e: “Virtue has no master.” Origen plants freedom everywhere. Even the stars can choose between contraries (First Principles 1.7.2) – an idea inspired by Plato (see Timaeus 40b; Laws 10, 898e–899a). At least when prompted by Celsus, Origen takes up the Platonic theme of divine ineffability, much favoured by Clement. Celsus, quoting Plato, Letter 7, 341c, affirms that the Good “cannot at all be expressed in words, but comes to us by long familiarity and suddenly like a light in the soul kindled by a leaping spark.” Origen greets this warmly: “we also agree that this is well said, 196

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for God revealed to them these things and all other truths which they stated rightly” (Against Celsus 6.3). He concedes to Celsus that “none of the descriptions by words or expressions can show the attributes of God” (6.65). But he deflates this by a comparison with the difficulty of naming the difference between the taste of a date and the taste of a fig. He scores a point: the ineffability of the first principle is not absolute in Timaeus 28c; it is speakable by a small number; thus Celsus contradicts Plato in making God ineffable even for these (Against Celsus 7.43). But Origen is impatient to leave the terrain of ineffability in order to return to his home ground, the revelation of God in his Logos. When Celsus draws on Republic 518a: “If anyone leads people out of darkness into a bright light, they cannot endure the radiancy and think that their sight is injured and damaged and incapacitated,” Origen does not pursue this glimmer of divine transcendence but affirms a robust knowability of God, mediated by the Logos, who is identified as universal reason and cosmic wisdom. “Human nature is not sufficient in any way to seek for God and to find Him in His pure nature, unless it is helped by the God who is the object of the search” (7.42). Origen does not reject the sungeneia between the human soul and the divine, but he places it in a more concrete soteriological context. It is not an automatic passport to knowledge of God, but a capacity that needs to be activated by grace. But Origen’s absorption or sublation of Platonist thought forms does not necessarily imply a critical engagement with the complexity of Plato’s thought. He offers a Christian version of Plato’s onoma, logos, eidôlon, epistêmê (Letter 7, 342a): 1. the Baptist’s voice, 2. the incarnate Logos, 3. the imprint of his wounds in the soul, and 4. the Christ-Wisdom that the perfect know (Against Celsus 6.8–9). Crouzel calls this ad hoc utterance “a genial transposition of Platonic dialectic into Christian revelation,”26 though it has nothing at all to do with dialectic. De Lubac finds here the very “soul” of Origen’s transposition of Platonism, which he compares with Plato’s own transposition or elevation of the myths he drew on: “errors, incoherences, awkwardnesses” in Origen’s “new synthesis” cannot diminish “the dominant thought of this extraordinary genius,” namely to proclaim Christ.27 Neither of the Jesuit Origenists show much understanding of philosophy here, and in general they react phobically to Harnackian diagnoses of Origen’s (popular) Platonism, including those of their confrères Jean Daniélou and Aloisius Lieske.28 As Harl observes, Origen’s concern “is above all to find words analogous to those of Plato; he does not seek so much to discover across the appropriate terms the proper procedure of revelation.”29 The identification of this “procedure” would have required first an overcoming of Platonic conceptions. Again, when Celsus quotes Timaeus 28c and states that the methods of synthesis, separation (analusis), and analogy are furnished “that we might get some conception (epinoia) of the nameless” (Against Celsus 7.42), Origen’s response betrays a poor understanding of this triad, which he associates with geometrical procedures (7.44). Correctly understood, as Alcinous explains, analysis or separation is the negative way, and synthesis is a more positive regression to the One, for example in going back from the beauty of bodies until one conceives “the good itself and what is in the first degree loveable and desirable” (Didaskalicus 10; cf. Plato, Symp. 204c). Since for Origen, as for Philo, Paul, and Augustine, natural theology is not a human enterprise but a divine revelation, he would not be impressed by this recommendation. Romans 1 equips him with a critical distance from Platonism. The preached Word now has more effect than intellectual acrobatics. There is more divine solicitude for weak humanity in the incarnate Word than in “the Logos, of whom Plato says that after finding him it is impossible to declare him to all men” (Against Celsus 7.42). Similarly Origen distinguishes four ways of relating to God: some adore the God of the universe, some the Son, his anointed, some the sun, moon, and stars, some the works of men’s hands (Commentary on John 2.27). He parallels this with an epistemological division 197

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of degrees of participation in the Logos (2.28–31) that recalls the segmented line of Republic 509d–e, which concerns relations of image and archetype in the intelligible and sensible worlds. The parallelism between these two series of stages, one “ontological,” the other “epistemological,” also recalls the correlation of four levels of being and four powers of the mind – intelligence (noêsis), reflection (dianoia), belief (pistis), and imagination (eikasia) – in Republic 511d–e. Numenius in Origen’s judgement “expounded Plato with very great skill” (Against Celsus 4.51). Numenius is the foremost precursor of Plotinus’ thinking of the One beyond being. Clement associates the supreme God with the first hypostasis of the Parmenides and the second God, the Mind – in Clement the Son, the Logos – with the second hypostasis, the one-many. Divine ineffability and simplicity characterize the Father, but not the Son. Some of this carries over to Origen, as when in Commentary on John 2.18 he says that the Logos “would not be God if he were not with God (pros ton theon) and he would not remain God if he did not persevere in the uninterrupted contemplation of the paternal depths.” However, the question whether God is to be identified with being itself or “whether God ‘transcends being in rank and power’ (epekeina ousias esti presbeia kai dunamei)” (cf. Plato, Republic 509b), so that “we ought to say that the only-begotten and firstborn of all creation is being of beings, and idea of ideas, and beginning, and that his Father and God transcends all these” (6.64), remains undecided in Origen as in Middle Platonism. Origen plays quite freely with the elements of Platonic rhetoric, to underline the Father’s transcendence: Although the Saviour transcends in his essence, rank, power, divinity (ousia kai presbeia kai dunamei kai theotêti), . . . and wisdom, beings that are so great and of such antiquity, nevertheless, he is not comparable with the Father in any way. (Commentary on John 13.152) Faced with a string of Platonic platitudes from Celsus – “Being and becoming are, respectively, intelligible and visible. Truth is associated with being, error with becoming. Knowledge concerns truth, opinion the other” (Against Celsus 7.45), Origen contrasts his own attitude – “We are careful not to raise objections to any good teaching” – with Celsus’ contempt for Christian virtue and piety, which he describes entirely in Platonic terms: It is not merely a matter of theory when they distinguish between being and becoming and between what is intelligible and what is visible, and when they associate truth with being and by all possible means avoid the error which is bound up with becoming. (7.46 ) He gives a Platonic hue to Romans 1:20 by adding a reference to “steps (epibathra) to the contemplation of the nature of invisible things” (7.46). Such exchanges confirm that Celsus and Origen share a global Platonist wisdom, forming the broad horizon within which Origen’s more piquant Platonist tenets fall into place. In response to Celsus’ claim that all the wisdom of the Christians was better expressed by Plato, without recourse to threats and promises, Origen says that Plato is read only by literati whereas the Gospels, like Epictetus, touch ordinary folk. He adds a deeper point: the Christian teachings have a power given by God to the teacher, a grace that shines in his words (Against Celsus 6.2). The inefficacity of “Plato’s fine utterance” (6.5) is clear, for it did not succeed in purifying his own religious practice. This stance is taken up by Eusebius of Caesarea, who often builds on Origen in his own apologetical work against Porphyry, and echoes his judgements on 198

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Plato.30 Plato’s message reached only an elite, whereas Christ’s has captured the whole world, and this weakness was compounded by his continuing idolatrous practice. Eusebius’s Plato is that of Middle Platonism, the Plato of the Republic, the Laws, and the Timaeus, not the Parmenides; metaphysics, dialectic, and the problematic of the Ideas play little role; a popular Platonism, primarily ethical, with religious tenets easily linked to Christianity, predominates, with a focus on Socrates.31 Eusebius notes that Plato counseled faith in the gods as a matter of custom rather than of rational insight or mystic ineffability (Preparation for the Gospel 2.7.3). He says that Plato “brought back to unity all the parts of philosophy until then scattered and torn like the limbs of Pentheus, as someone has said” (11.2.2); this “someone” is probably Numenius.32 Clement (Stromateis 1.59.1–6) used the image for the way Greek philosophers have torn the eternal Logos into shreds, which the theologian puts back together.

Gregory of Nyssa: The Awkward Body For Athenagoras, “the divine logos is at the same time the mediator of creation and contains in himself the totality of ‘the ideas,’ the paradigms of creation” (as in Origen later); he “understands the creation of the world as a mere shaping of eternal matter. . . . The Platonic scheme of world formation is in no way criticised. For Athenagoras it possesses absolute validity.”33 Theophilus of Antioch (To Autolycus 2.10–31), foe of the Platonizing Hermogenes, was the strongest teacher of the ex nihilo, scotching the notion that God needed preexistent matter to work on. The force of creatio ex nihilo as a crucial mark of difference between Platonism and Christianity should not be exaggerated. Justin approves of Plato’s teaching, derived from Moses, that God created from shapeless matter (1 Apol. 59); later Theodoret (whose degree of philosophical education is disputed34 and who relies heavily on Clement, Eusebius, and florilegia35) will make Plato, again a teacher of creatio ex nihilo, again in dependence on Moses.36 Theodoret is the last great representative of the apologists’ tradition, replaying the old contests between Platonic and Christian cosmology, anthropology, and theology. Perhaps the unoriginality of his copious discussion matches the depleted state of the pagan opposition since the crushing of Porphyry and Julian. The lofty spiritualism of the Phaedrus and the Phaedo drew the disapproval of Athenagoras, who denies that the goal of life is “the happiness of the soul after its separation from the body” (On the Resurrection 25.1), and Methodius, who says that “Origen claimed, like Plato, that the human being was the soul alone” (On the Resurrection 1.34.1). Athanasius writes in Alexandrine style of the soul’s immortality in Against the Nations 30–34, but adopts a more biblical conception of incorruptibility (a salvific gift rather than a metaphysical necessity) in On the Incarnation.37 The resurrection of the body was a major point of Christian opposition to Platonism, even to the point of a provocative insistence on the literal materiality of the resurrection body. How entrenched that attitude was is seen not only in Tertullian, but even in the philosophicalminded Gregory of Nyssa, foremost Christian reader of Plato and guardian of the Origenian heritage in the fourth century. His On the Soul and the Resurrection,38 a Christian Phaedo, shows a fuller engagement with Plato than the similar exercise of Methodius of Olympus, his Symposium, in which Plato is adapted to the praise of virginity, as also in Gregory’s On Virginity 10 and Life of Macrina 22.39 Nyssen never really engages with Plato’s philosophy, preferring to use it for polemic purposes in his jousts with Eunomius, and ready to renounce the freedom of philosophy for the authority of Scripture at Macrina’s behest. Revelling in scriptural wisdom, he laments the sterility of philosophical debate, which hardly suggests an eager involvement with Platonic dialectic. Yet he is steeped in Plato’s texts, and their imprint on his way of thinking goes deep, notably in his conceptions of the soul: he seeks to reconcile its simplicity with its tripartition in a manner 199

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reminiscent of Alcinous, though ascribing a providential role to its “impulses of desire,” resisting the Phaedo’s tendency to see the epithumetikon and thumoeides as evil.40 For Gregory as for Plato, “the real world is immaterial, intelligible, and ideal. Of this world the soul is a part; there is its true home . . . God becomes the idea of Good and man rises to God by participation.”41 There is a development from the quite Platonic ascent to God in such earlier works as On Virginity to the stress on divine infinity and incomprehensibility and on the endless reaching out in epektasis in the Life of Moses. The apophatic elements in the long polemic against Eunomius no doubt contributed to this, perhaps also a deeper study of Plotinus, not to mention the development of his spiritual life. The funereal, grief-laden mood of On the Soul and the Resurrection, caused by Basil’s death and Macrina’s imminent death, matches the grief of Socrates’ disciples, but the earnest admonitions of Macrina are far from the spirit of play affected by Socrates. Macrina’s peremptory command cuts across Gregory’s perennial doubting and his philosophical mindset, but the two agree that he can put his questions in dialectical style, not with the intention of destroying faith in the soul’s durable existence, but rather with a view of making more solid his conviction about it. Macrina argues that the soul “exists, with a rare and peculiar nature of its own, independently of the body with its gross texture.” “The soul is an essence created, and living, and intellectual, transmitting from itself to an organized and sentient body the power of living and of grasping objects of sense.” One knows what the soul is when one is told “that it is not that which our senses perceive, neither a colour, nor a form, nor a hardness, nor a weight, nor a quantity, nor a cubic dimension, nor a point, nor anything else perceptible in matter.” Gregory asks if we should then say “that the Deity and the Mind of man are identical, if it be true that neither can be thought of, except by the withdrawal of all the data of sense.” This Macrina denounces as blasphemous. That which is made in the image of the Deity necessarily possesses a likeness to its prototype in every respect; it resembles it in being intellectual, immaterial, unconnected with any notion of weight, and in eluding any measurement of its dimensions; yet as regards its own peculiar nature it is something different from that other. But the dialogue veers into a more materialistic register with the claim that the soul remains attached to the atoms of a dead body in view of their reconstitution in the resurrection of the body: it is not “absolutely impossible that the atoms should again coalesce and form the same man as before.” You will behold this bodily envelopment, which is now dissolved in death, woven again out of the same atoms, not indeed into this organization with its gross and heavy texture, but with its threads worked up into something more subtle and ethereal, so that you will not only have near you that which you love, but it will be restored to you with a brighter and more entrancing beauty. The tawdriness of the argumentation is a lapse from high rationality due to a literalist ratiocination on biblical data. Philosophical reason works best in the contexts for which it was developed and wilts when transferred to biblical contexts. It is not quite correct to say that “though the resurrection of the human being in a new, transfigured bodiliness is not denied, it is ‘existentially’ quite secondary to the ‘Dionysian’ longing for the heavenly home of the soul,”42 so that the bodily resurrection would be only an ontic narration, secondary to the ontological metaphysics.43 Gregory does insist strongly on the physical resurrection, even if in the end he relativizes 200

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it by recalling Paul on the “spiritual body” (1 Cor. 15). A real integration between the Platonic, the materialistic, and the Pauline is not achieved, though ideally it should have been possible to resolve the clash between Platonic pathos and credal conviction by making Paul a platform for their conciliation rather than for a flight into apophasis. Cherniss says that the mismatch between Platonic idealism and the physicality of the resurrection makes Gregory’s writings “a sorry spectacle.”44 But the strains within the biblical-Platonic synthesis run through all patristic theology, and need not be melodramatized as an agonizing clash between Gregory as thinker and Gregory as believer. The suggestion that Gregory is a Platonist to the fingertips and could not really be interested in the crudities of the Creed dissolves the creative tension that animates his thought. Apostopoulos wrongly criticizes Daniélou for his portrait of a mystical Gregory, and his suggestion that Gregory was only reluctantly a churchman is confuted by the very titles of Gregory’s works, mostly scriptural commentaries, catechesis, and defences of the Creed against heresy. Discussion of the tensions between Platonism and dogma in the On the Soul and the Resurrection has been too focused on alleged personal problems of Gregory rather than on the perennial tension between the Greek and biblical roots of theology.

Impatience with Plato The Emperor Julian was an ardent champion of Plato, drawing on the Republic and the Laws in his earlier forced praise of Constantius (Oration 1), and also on the Menexenus, in which he translates Plato’s reliance on self theistically, since the self is the mind and the mind is divine. Porphyry and Julian prompted increasingly negative views of Plato and his thought on the Christian side. While Origen largely shared Celsus’ veneration of Plato, Gregory Nazianzen lumps Plato in with the evil influences on the ungrateful Julian: That’s what the Platos, the Chrysippuses, the illustrious Lyceum, the venerable Stoa, and the brayers of ingenuities taught him. . . . That’s what he learned from the noble masters and supporters and legislators of the monarchy that he recruited from the back streets. (Oration 4.43) He goes on to list atheists and astrologers among them, in despite of Julian’s deep theistic piety. Socrates he accuses of pederasty veiled by fine-sounding speculation, Plato of gluttony (4.72; the latter accusation is already in Tatian, Oration 2). Plato is demonized by Chrysostom (On Acts of the Apostles 4.4): Why then, it is asked, did not Christ exercise His influence upon Plato, and upon Pythagoras? Because the mind of Peter was much more philosophical than their minds . . . The one wasted his time about a set of idle and useless dogmas [such as the idea that the soul could be reborn as a fly]. . . . The man was full of irony and of jealous feelings. . . . He enacted those laws of gross turpitude [sharing of women]. (trans. Pusey) Women and slaves are persuaded by Christian preaching, whereas Plato’s luxurious life shows how little he himself was persuaded that money is to be despised (On Acts of the Apostles 36.2). How much time Plato wasted on mathematics, and how useless are his ruminations on the immortality of the soul (On 1 Corinthians 4.3)!45 Moderation prevails in Cyril’s twelve-book response to Julian. Cyril agrees with Socrates and Plato that scientific studies are futile (Against Julian 5.38–40), citing, from Eusebius who makes 201

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the same point (Preparation for the Gospel 14.11), Xenophon, Memorabilia 1.1.13–14 along with Republic 475d8–e5 and Phaedo, 96a5–c7. He praises Plato’s insights (Against Julian 1.40 and 42; 2.17; 8.27 and 31), but denounces him for propositions close to Arianism (1.48; 2.48; 8.26), and for his contradictions and his refutation by Aristotle (2.16; 45). The theological yield of the Timaeus and Letter 2 is presented slightingly: Plato, Julian’s father and master, defined the “demiurge” as the one cause of all . . . but says that another god pre-exists him, namely the idea of the Good, and even imagines a third cause, less privileged in rank and nature than the first two, which he calls the “soul” of all beings. (Against Julian 3.34) Those who judge Plato entirely negatively, such as Tatian, Theophilus, and Epiphanius “most probably have the majority of community members on their side.”46 No doubt, but the greatest Christian intellectuals such as Origen, Eusebius, Gregory of Nyssa, Cyril, and Augustine were free of such narrow bias; though Origen sees Plato as sometimes demonically inspired (Against Celsus 8.4). All had trouble integrating the alien figures of Socrates and Plato into their Christian vision and tended to waver in the attitudes they took up to them. What was valid in Plato’s thought could have prompted a wide ecumenical vision, drawing on conceptions of natural theology or of the universal presence of the Logos, but the all-too-convenient dependency theory sidelined this possibility. Yet Plato’s core ontological, noetic, and ethical convictions invested Christian thinking very deeply, in both crude and subtle guises, with the silent force of a rising tsunami. Despite centuries of discussion on “the Platonism of the Fathers,” the theological implications of this are far from being fully clarified, and need to be revisited in light of modern philosophical critiques of Platonism and in light of current theological appreciation of religious and cultural pluralism.

Notes 1 Thomson 2017: 127. 2 Harnack 1901. See also Edwards 2007: 8. Justin avoids drawing the parallel that lay close to hand between the death of Socrates and that of Jesus (11), stressing rather that no one was prepared to die for Socrates’ teaching. 3 Young 1989: 163; Harnack 1901: 9, however, says that Justin knew how his imperial addressees admired Socrates. 4 Harnack 1901: 10. Athenagoras writes in similar terms (Leg. 31). 5 Harnack 1901: 13. 6 Harnack 1901: 23. 7 Harnack 1901: 23. 8 “Augustine probably knew only a part of the Timaeus (27d–47b) in Cicero’s translation.” Erler 2016 col. 915. 9 This draws on Charmides 155d to spice up the anecdote deriving from Phaedo of Elis that the physiognomist Zopyrus discerned in Socrates’ face multa vitia (Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 4.80), including that he was “addicted to women – at which Alcibiades is said to have given a loud guffaw!” (Cicero, On Fate 10). Socrates admitted that he had bad tendencies by nature but had overcome them by reason; see also Alexander of Aphrodisias, On Fate 8; quoted in Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel 6.9. 10 Gilson 1941–42: 252. 11 Jesus’ “apprehension of God as a loving Father could to a large extent be confirmed by selected texts drawn from the philosophers: God’s truth (Plato, Republic 382e), his goodness (ibid. 379c), his generosity (Timaeus 29e), and his creative wisdom (Sophist 265cd)” (Stead 1995: 143). 12 Minns 2006: 266. 13 Daniélou 1961: 106. This Harnackian remark is less pointed in John Austin Baker’s translation, 1973: 110: “the shaping of Christian theological language under Platonic influence.” 202

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14 Another often-Christianized text, again filtered through the Middle Platonist reception, is Phaedrus 246–249 on the wings of the soul: “It is the whole Christian theology of the original fall and the restoration of grace that we see expressed in Platonic terms” (Daniélou 1961: 16–17). Philo draws on it (Planting 14; Dreams. 1.138; Heir of Divine Things 240). The supracelestial place (huperouranios topos) of Phaedrus 247c is taken up by Justin, Trypho 56.1 and 60.2, to refer to God’s awful dwelling, accessible only to the mind (see Méhat 1975). Clement of Alexandria is intimately familiar with the Phaedrus (see Butterworth 1916); Origen refers to it in Against Celsus 4.40; 6.43; 7.44 “Plato learned the words of the Phaedrus from some Hebrew” (6.9). The Phaedrus hovers behind the account of souls in First Principles 1.3.8. 15 Origen’s charter for his spiritual exegesis is 2 Cor. 3:7–17, but Platonism lurks in the background of Paul, John, and Hebrews, mediated by the Hellenistic Jewish traditions culminating in Philo. Origen may be less Platonistic than Philo as an exegete, but he shares his premises. 16 Van den Hoek 1988; Runia 1995. 17 Hyldahl 1966. 18 Van Winden 1971. 19 Joly 1973. 20 See Thraede 1962. 21 Cardinal Bessarion recalls this in his 1469 defence of Plato, as a point in Plato’s favour; Plato is dubbed an “Attic Moses” by Ficino and Pico. See Ridings 1995: 244–236. 22 Marcovich 1990. 23 Pouderon 2009: 51 finds that unlike Justin, the author of Cohortatio “shows no sympathy toward philosophy. . . . Even Plato, so often spared by Christian polemicists, finds no favour in his eyes.” 24 Erler 2016: 911. 25 See Hengstermann 2015. 26 Crouzel 1961: 215. 27 De Lubac, in Crouzel 1961: 8. 28 Lieske 1938: 186: “Origen’s cosmological interpretation of the Logos is the gravest threat for the trinitarian mystery of sonship and the strongest thrust of his speculative thinking toward the Neoplatonic system.” 29 Harl 1958: 313. 30 See Des Places 1956. 31 See Des Places 1982: 36–37, who cites Festugière 1932: 222–223. 32 See Des Places 1973: 65 Another possibility is Atticus, fr. 1; see Des Places 1977: 19, 27, 39. 33 May 2006: 444–445, referring to Plato, Laws 10.2–3. 34 Pierre Canivet later modified his negative judgement of 1957: 274, 308, and it is contested by Siniossoglou 1908: 8–10, who at 11 ascribes to Theodoret a method used by Eusebius too: “his selection, rearrangement and découpage of Platonic passages often attribute to them a signification very different from and occasionally opposed to that intended by their author.” See also Theodoret 1904: 111–114. 35 He names Aetius, Plutarch, and Porphyry as his sources for the diversity of the philosophers’ views (Curat. 4.31). 36 Curat. 4.37, citing Tim. 28b–c and Republic 6.509b. Eusebius also makes Plato a witness to creatio ex nihilo by selective quotation from Timaeus. 37 See Louth 1975. Similarly, Athanasius limits Justin’s logos spermatikos to the Christian community (Meijering 1974: 117). Meijering shows Platonic elements in the arguments of Contra Arianos. 38 Quoted from St. Gregory of Nyssa, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers translation, revised by Kevin Knight, at www.newadvent.org/fathers/2915.htm. For the Greek text and extensive discussion of its Platonic elements, see Ramelli 2007. 39 See Meredith 1990: 129. 40 See Cherniss 1971: 7–25; Pochoshajew 2004: 114–123. 41 Cherniss 1971: 62. On participation see Balas 1966. 42 Apostolopoulos 1986: 282. 43 Apostolopoulos 1986: 283. 44 Cherniss 1971: 7–25. Pochoshajew blurs Cherniss’ position when he omits the first word in the following quotation: “but [= except] for some few orthodox dogmas which he could not circumvent, Gregory has merely applied Christian names to Plato’s doctrine and called it Christian theology” (21). Cherniss does not call in question Gregory’s faith, and indeed sees him as ready to sacrifice all philosophy for it. 203

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45 Erler 2016: 906, following Fabricius 1988: 180, has Chrysostom say that to mention Plato in a sermon on Christ is an insult to Christ; but the text is not entirely negative: “let it not be thought an insult to Christ that we recall Pythagoras, Plato, Zeno and Apollonius of Tyana in speaking of him; we do it not of our own accord but as a condescension to the weakness of the Jews who think Christ a mere man,” just as Paul adopted a gradualist approach in Athens in Acts 17 (Against the Jews 5.3 = Patrologia Graeca 48, 886). 46 Fabricius 1988: 180. Even though approving nods to Plato are rare exceptions in patristic writing and are so managed that “the central Christian region is secured against the Platonic” (183), we may investigate “in what degree Platonic elements could be received and further developed without being apprehended as such” (185). But Fabricius underplays the encomia of Plato that often crop up in Patristic writings.

Bibliography For Plato, Xenophon and other classical authors, see Loeb Classical Library translations. For Middle Platonic authors, see the chapter in this volume by O’Brien; also Des Places in what follows. For Christian authors, see relevant chapters in this volume or translations in Library of AnteNicene Fathers and Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, regularly republished by Eerdmans (Grand Rapids). Apostolopoulos, Charalambos (1986), Phaedo Christianus: Studien zur Verbindung und Abwägung des Verhältnisses zwischen dem platonischen “Phaidon” und dem Dialog Gregors von Nyssa “Über die Seele und die Auferstehung”, Frankfurt: Peter Lang. Balas, David L. (1966), Metousia Theou: Man’s Participation in God’s Perfections According to Saint Gregory of Nyssa, Rome: Herder. Butterworth, G. W. (1916), “Clement of Alexandria’s Protrepticus and the Phaedrus of Plato”, Classical Quarterly 10, 198–205. Canivet, Pierre (1957), Histoire d’une entreprise apologétique au Ve siècle, Paris: Bloud & Gay. Cherniss, Harold Fredrik (1971[1930]), The Platonism of Gregory of Nyssa, New York: Lenox Hill. Crouzel, Henri (1961), Origène et la “connaisssance mystique”, Paris: Desclée. Daniélou, Jean (1961), Message évangélique et culture hellénistique aux IIe et IIie siècles, Paris: Desclée (Translated by John Austin Baker [1973] as Gospel Message and Hellenistic Culture, London: Darton, Longman & Todd). Des Places, Édouard (1956), “Eusèbe de Césarée juge de Platon dans la Préparation Évangélique”, in Melanges de philosophie grecque offerts à Monsignor Diès par ses élèves, Paris: Vrin, 69–77. Des Places, Édouard (ed.). (1973), Numénius: Fragments, Paris: Les Belles Lettres. Des Places, Édouard (ed.). (1977), Atticus: Fragments, Paris: Les Belles Lettres. Des Places, Édouard (1982), Eusèbe de Césarée commentateur: Platonisme et Écriture sainte, Paris: Beauchesne. Edwards, Mark (2007), “Socrates and the Early Church”, in Michael Trapp (ed.), Socrates from Antiquity to the Enlightenment, London: Routledge, 127–142. Erler, Michael (2016), “Platonismus, C”, Reallexicon für Antike und Christentum fasc. 214–215, 905–948, col. 915. Fabricius, Cajus (1988), “Zu den Aussagen der griechischen Kirchenväter über Platon”, Vigiliae Christianae 42, 179–187. Festugière, A. J. (1932), L’Idéal religieux des Grecs et l’Évangile, Paris: Gabalda. Gilson, Étienne (1941–1942), “Le Christianisme et la tradition philosophique”, Revue des Sciences philosophiques et théologiques 31, 249–266. Harl, Marguerite (1958), Origène et la fonction révélatrice du Verbe incarné, Paris: Seuil. Harnack, Adolf von (1901), Sokrates und die alte Kirche, Giessen: Ricker. Hengstermann, Christian (2015), Origenes und der Ursprung der Freiheitsmetaphysik, Münster: Aschendorff. Hyldahl, Niels (1966), Philosoophie und Christentum: Eine Interpretation der Einleitung zum Dialog Justins, Kopenhagen: Prostant apud Munksgaard. 204

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Joly, Robert (1973), Christianisme et Philosophie: Études sur Justin et les Apologistes grecs du deuxième siècle, Brussels: Éditions de l’Université de Bruxelles. Lieske, Aloisius (1938), Die Theologie der Logosmystik bei Origenes, Münster: Aschendorff. Louth, Andrew (1975), “The Conception of the Soul in Athanasius’ Contra Gentes-De Incarnatione”, Studia Patristica 13, 227–231. Marcovich, Miroslav (ed.). (1990), Pseudo-Iustinus: Cohortatio ad Graecos, De Monarchia, Oratio ad Graecos, Berlin: de Gruyter. May, G. (2006), “Monotheism and Creation”, in M. M. Mitchell and F. M. Young (eds.), The Cambridge History of Christianity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 434–451. Méhat, André (1975), “Le ‘lieu supracéleste’ de Saint Justin à Origène”, in Maria Bellis (ed.), Forma Futuri: Studi in onore del Cardinale Michele Pellegrino, Turin: Bottega d’Erasmo, 282–294. Meijering, E. P. (1974), Orthodoxy and Platonism in Athanasius: Synthesis or Antithesis?, Leiden: Brill. Meredith, Anthony (1990), “The Idea of God in Gregory of Nyssa”, in Hubertus R. Drobner and Christopher Klock (eds.), Studien zu Gregor von Nyssa und der christlichen Spätantike, Leiden: Brill, 127–147. Minns, D. (2006), “Irenaeus”, in M. M. Mitchell and F. M. Young (eds.), The Cambridge History of Christianity, vol. 1, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pochoshajew, Igor (2004), Die Seele bei Plato, Plotin, Porphyr und Gregor von Nyssa, Frankfurt: Peter Lang. Pouderon, Bernard (ed.). (2009), Pseudo-Justin, Oeuvres apologétiques, Sources Chrétiennes 528, Paris: Cerf. Ramelli, Ilaria (trans.). (2007), Gregorio di Nyssa, sull’Anima e la Resurrezione, Milan: Bompiani. Ridings, Daniel (1995), The Attic Moses: The Dependency Theme in Some Early Christian Writers, Göteborg: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis. Runia, David T. (1995), Philo and the Church Fathers, Leiden: Brill. Scholte, Clemens (trans.). (2015), Theodoret: De Graecarum affectionum curatio, Leiden: Brill. Siniossoglou, Niketas (2008), Plato and Theodoret: The Christian Appropriation of Platonic Philosophy and the Hellenic Intellectual Resistance, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Stead, Christopher (1995), Philosophy in Christian Antiquity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Theodoret (1904), Graecarum Affectionum Curatio, ed. H. Raeder, Leiipzig: Hinrichs. Thomson, Stuart R. (2017), “The Philosopher’s Journey: Philosophical and Christian Conversions in the Second Century”, Studia Patristica 93, 123–140. Thraede, K. (1962), “Erfinder II”, Reallexicon für Antike und Christentum 5, 1191–1278, col. 1257. Van den Hoek, Annewies (1988), Clement of Alexandria and His Use of Philo in the Stromateis, Leiden: Brill. Van Winden, J. M. C. (1971), An Early Christian Philosopher: Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Tryphon Chapters One to Nine, Leiden: Brill. Young, M. O. (1989), “Justin, Socrates and the Middle-Platonists”, Studia Patristica 18.2, 161–166.

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16 Aristotle and his school Mark Edwards

Aristotle and the Peripatetics Born in Stagira in 384 B.C., Aristotle spent most of his adult life as a resident alien in Athens, first studying under Plato and then lecturing in his own school, the Lyceum. Between these two periods of residence, he was tutor to Alexander of Macedon under the patronage of Alexander’s father Philip (for sources, see Düring 1957). At his death in 322, he left behind him a body of lectures spare in style but covering almost every field of inquiry with remarkable tenacity of thought and uniformity of method. For some centuries after his death, these were not so well known outside his own school as his exoteric writings, which were more elegant in style but more superficial in argumentation. His esoteric works were arranged and published as a corpus by Andronicus of Rhodes in the mid-first century B.C. (see Hatzimichali 2013). By this time, his disciples were known as Peripatetics, perhaps because it was the custom in the Lyceum for the teacher to perambulate the cloister as he spoke. From the late second century, commentaries on his writings grow increasingly abundant; by the end of the third, his philosophy had been fused with that of Plato to form a tradition of thought that would dominate first the Greek, then the Christian, then the Muslim world for more than a millennium. He became not only an oracle in biology and physics but a regular interlocutor in the theological disputations of late antiquity. This is all the more remarkable when we consider that his cardinal principles seemed to Christians of the three centuries far less assimilable than those of Plato. His Categories announced that the only real entities are concrete objects in the phenomenal realm; his treatises on physics, while they posit an incorruptible fifth element as the stuff of the heavens, promise to sublunar beings only an eternal vicissitude of generation and corruption. Every such being, so long as it exists, is a realisation of the potentiality of its material substrate to receive a form; this substrate, however, is equally hospitable to all qualities, and the processes of growth, locomotion and alteration which bring us into existence will replace us in time with new determinations of the same matter. The soul as the eidos or form of the body can never escape it, even in perception, which is the realisation of its potentiality to abstract the form from an object and unite with it through the mysterious agency of the nous poiêtikos: Aristotle does not say whether this “maker mind” or “active reason” survives the dissolution of the body (see further Brentano 206

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1992; Kosman 1992). The one agent of whom eternity can be predicated with confidence is God, at least in Metaphysics Lambda; he maintains his character as pure act, however, only by the perpetual contemplation of that which is perfect and immutable – that is to say, of his own perfection and immutability (see further Kosman 2000). He neither creates nor acts upon the world, but moves it only as the beloved moves the lover; since both his pure actuality and the naked potentiality of matter are eternal, the world must exist forever, and must be governed forever by the same natural laws. The purpose of the present chapter, therefore, is to explain how it was possible for Christians to embrace a philosophy which was at first sight manifestly inimical to their own in its denial of creation, special providence and any notion of personhood or voluntary condescension that might compromise the simplicity of God.

Aristotle in the second century Justin speaks of the Peripatetics only to mock their greed (Trypho 3), yet it has been argued by Robert Grant (1956) that he owed his version to a sally of Aristotelian dialectic. According to his own narrative, he had left doubt behind him as a Platonist until he was accosted by an old man, who convinced him that his school was confusing a substance with its qualities in teaching that the soul is life and at the same time that soul is a thing that lives; once disabused of this error, Justin found the Bible a surer ground than Plato for the hope of immortality (Trypho 5). Justin’s younger contemporary Tertullian is consistently censorious in his references to Aristotle’s denial of immortality to the soul, his sighting of providence and his fanciful postulation of a fifth element; yet he too has been credited with a surreptitious use of a trope from Rhetoric 2.22.23 when he urges that an act ascribed to God is all the more credible if it challenges our powers of comprehension (Flesh of Christ 5.4; Moffat 1916). In this case, however, the evidence for indebtedness is not so strong, for Aristotle propounds a forensic argument that implausible claims are less likely to be invented, whereas Tertullian bases his reasoning on the peculiar capacity of God to perform the impossible – a capacity unfathomable to all pagans who can imagine no God higher than the most sublime creation of their own minds. Clement of Alexandria evinces a wider knowledge of the Stagirite’s philosophy than any Christian writer before him, quoting by name from the exoteric writings and accurately paraphrasing the teaching of the Nicomachean Ethics on the threefold sources of vice (depravity, ignorance and incontinence) and his definition of virtue as a mean (Stromateis 2.15.62.2; Clark 1977: 59). Clement himself inclines more to the Stoic ideal of passionlessness (apatheia) than to moderation in virtue, and is as hostile as Jesus himself to any notion that external goods in this world are essential to happiness (Stromateis 3.7.57.1). His disquisition on logic in the eighth book of the Stromateis owes much to the Stoics, and it may be through perusing their criticisms that he came to know the Aristotelian Categories in some detail (Stromateis 8.23–24; Havrda 2012). A satire on this treatise is polemically deployed by Clement’s contemporary Hippolytus of Rome against the Gnosticising heretic Basilides, who proclaimed the ineffability of God in terms that might be thought to preclude his very existence (Refutation 7.21.1; see further Bos 2000). This, says Hippolytus, is the fruit of Aristotle’s teaching in the Categories that every concrete substance (first ousia) is a composite of the merely notional species (second ousia) with a constellation of properties, which, since they are not substances, have once again only a notional existence (Refutation 7.18.6). This hostile critique is probably derived from a Stoic or Platonic skirmisher of the second century, who did not foresee that the notion of the individual as an ensemble of properties would one day be advanced by both philosophers and Christians with more serious intent (see further Hippolytus 1990; Mueller 1994). 207

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Aristotle’s power to influence Christian thought was greatly enhanced at the end of the second century by the appearance of the first substantial commentaries on the esoteric corpus. Their author, Alexander of Aphrodisias, had imbibed the religious temper of the age, and his intimation that the God of Metaphysics Lambda may be the active reason of On the Soul 3.5 foreshadows the double character of nous in Plotinus as demiurge and fountainhead of human intellection (see further Bazán 1973). In his treatise On Fate, he defends the doctrine of sublunar providence, which he also entertains in his Questions and Answers, and raises a question that Aristotle had not raised, in his discussion of future contingents, with regard to divine foreknowledge. He concurs with Aristotle’s view that if the future is known, it is predetermined (see On Interpretation 17a–18b, with Anscombe 1956), and concludes that, while gods excel us in their capacity to predict the future actions of free agents, even they cannot have absolute certitude, since to know today that X will do p tomorrow necessitates the occurrence of p, and thus curtails the freedom of X. Origen, the first Christian heir to this discussion, accepts Alexander’s definition of freedom as power to do otherwise (Ramelli 2014), but is bound by his faith in prophecy to maintain that this indeterminacy is consistent with the infallible prescience of God. Mind (Latin mens, Greek nous) is the closest analogue to the nature of God in Origen’s First Principles (1.1.1), though he also he opines in his work Against Celsus (7.38) that God may be superior to mind. His precepts for the cultivation of virtue in First Principles 3.1 are reminiscent of the advice in the Nicomachean Ethics to foster a virtuous disposition by the deliberate performance of commensurate actions. His acceptance of the Aristotelian principle that there cannot be an actual infinity gave rise to the erroneous charge that he held the power of God to be finite (First Principles 2.9.1); his argument is rather that God’s omnipotence manifests itself as a power to create a world of any magnitude, with the logical proviso that this magnitude must be finite, just as a shape created by God will necessarily have a finite number of sides. His failure to forestall misunderstanding on this point is a corollary of the tendency, which he shares with scripture and hence with all ante-Nicene theologians, to use the word dunamis only to express the power of God in act, and not in the Aristotelian sense of unexercised potentiality.

Plato, Aristotle and the Trinity The church remained wary of Aristotle, and more hospitable to his master Plato, so long as the two were eponyms of irreconcilable schools. In the course of the third century, however, the metaphysics and logic of Aristotle were annexed by the leading school of Platonism as necessary supplements to the teaching of the founder, whom they venerated almost as Christians venerated the scriptures. The reality of the transcendent forms was not open to doubt, but Aristotle’s insistence that an incorporeal essence must have a substrate could be accommodated by making the forms coterminous with, and constitutive of, the archetypal nous. While this is not the first principle – the One being that which unifies all that exists, and is therefore prior to all existence – it is the God of Metaphysics Lambda, who in Aristotelian parlance is perfect energeiai or actuality (see further Rist 1973). Aristotle also teaches that every actuality has an associated activity, a second energeia; Plotinus deduces that if the first energeia is eternal, so is the second, no conversion of the potential to the actual being required as the precondition of this activity. An incorporeal and eternal being (having no matter and therefore no potentiality) may thus be said to act by virtue of its mere existence (see Viltanioti 2017). Plotinus devoted three polemical lectures to the Categories, but his editor Porphyry took a more benign view of this treatise in his own commentaries and his Isagoge, or introduction to Aristotelian logic (see Hass 2001; Karamanolis 2006: 212–220). The Categories was not designed, as Plotinus supposed, to compete with the ontology of Plato, but to teach us how to 208

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parse the terms which we use of phenomena in the material realm. Moreover, while it is more than a tract about grammar, it does not purport to investigate the nature of objects even in this realm, but rather the relation of the sign to the object, the word insofar as it signifies. His Isagoge, or introduction, reduced the Aristotelian taxonomy of being to five cardinal terms: the genus, the differentia, the eidos or species resulting from the combination of genus and differentia, the idion which is common to the whole species, and the sumbebekos or accident which characterises the individual member of the species (Barnes 2003). Translated into Latin by Victorinus and Boethius (Adamo 1967), this was to prove the most seminal of Porphyry’s works in late antiquity and the Middle Ages. Both his interpretation of the Categories and the Plotinian notion of a being that acts by virtue of its existence were given a Christian dress by Gregory of Nyssa in his vindication of the Nicene faith. In his answer to the arguments of Eunomius against the coeternity of the Son with the Father, Gregory invokes the Plotinian principle that eternal and incorporeal objects act by virtue of their mere existence. Eunomius, by reputation a subtle Aristotelian, had argued that the Son’s immateriality is no proof of his being unbegotten or uncreated, as God is capable of creation out of nothing (16.1–6). On the other hand, a corollary of the immateriality of God is that his nature is wholly free from composition (11.1–3). Hence the Unbegotten cannot be two beings, for then it would be a composite of elements which are prior even to the Unbegotten; yet surely that which is unbegotten can be second to none (46.13). The one who is begotten comes into being from the me on, the state of not-being; if therefore he were eternal, his existence and his nonexistence would be coexistent – an absurdity on which we need not linger (14.15–21). Nor would it have been possible for him to alienate any portion of his essence to the Son, for that would introduce pathos (suffering) into a nature which is agreed by all to be impassible (16.9). It follows that there is a state, if not a time, in which the Father was without a son, though we cannot suppose that he ever lacked the capacity to beget. Although he does not commonly distinguish the energeia of God from his dunamis, Eunomius appears to have implied on one occasion that the energeia which gave rise to the Son was the realisation of a latent potentiality (1.244; GNO I 98: energeia dunameos). Eunomius now departs from Aristotle by denying that the realisation of this potentiality follows inevitably from the simplicity and eternity of God. If that were so, the product would be eternal (23.1–6), a conclusion repugnant to reason and scripture alike. Gregory, while agreeing that scripture must be the chief authority, does not accept that the term “begotten” implies an antecedent state in which the Son was not begotten and hence nonexistent. In his letter to Ablabius, he argues that the doctrine of the Trinity does not entail three gods because the nouns theos (“god”) and theotês (“divinity”) are derived from the verb theasthai, “to contemplate”, which characterizes not the essence of deity but its energeia, the providential exercise of oversight of the cosmos (GNO III.1.44.22. Cf. GNO II.397.16 and the play on theos and theatês at Plotinus, Enneads 5.1.9–12). While it is true that all divine acts originate with the Father, proceed through the Son and are perfected by the Spirit, the three remain so inseparably united that no act can be attributed uniquely to one of the Persons. Since, therefore, they are one in operation, there is no legitimate plural of the term theos which is derived from the operation. Gregory concedes that the exercise of this divine power need not be eternal, for the world itself was created out of nothing, as were even the denizens of the invisible world. The very fact, however, that the highest of these are acclaimed in the plural as dunameis or powers of God is evidence that they do not share the monadic nature of the three divine persons (1.310–313; GNO I 118–119). The Son we know, by contrast, to be the dunamis and wisdom of the Father (1.335; GNO I 126); if instead we postulate an intermediate dunamis, distinct from the Father’s essence, as the instrument of his creation, then that dunamis, not the 209

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Father, is his author (1.247; GNO I 99). Absurdity is compounded if we introduce energeia as a third term, distinct from any of the hypostases; for, having no hypostasis of its own, it could produce only a work commensurate with its own nature, that is, a work without substance (1.253–260; GNO I, 100–102). The dunamis that is Christ cannot itself be in a state of dunamis, but is itself an energeia; neither, if we grant to Eunomius that the simplicity of divine beings precludes the separation of properties from the essence, is it possible to distinguish the Father’s dunamis from that which he is in himself. In short it is he, by the mere fact of being the Father, who generates the Son as his dunamis and energeia, and hence as a being one in essence as himself (see further Barnes 2001). The Porphyrian understanding of the Categories as the “study of terms insofar as they signify” underlies and elucidates Gregory’s efforts to explain the coexistence in the Godhead of the one essence with three hypostases or persons (see Edwards 2016). Although in Letter 38 of the Basilian corpus he likens the persons to three men who share one essence because they belong to a single species, his qualifications of this thesis in his reply to Ablabius show that he recognised the shortcomings of this comparison. Of course God is not a species, for he is by definition the only one of his kind. Neither is he an Aristotelian deutera ousia which is predicated of the concrete particular but is never instantiated in reality: on the contrary, whereas humanity is never fully instantiated in any human being, God is fully instantiated in each of his three persons. Careful readers of Letter 38 have agreed that Gregory is not drawing an ontological distinction between the Godhead and its persons, but differentiating the terms of “common” or “catholic” application from those which set each person apart from the others – those by which, to use Gregory’s own locution, each of the persons “is known”. In arguing that the persons are individuated not so much by their intrinsic attributes as by their relations to one another, Gregory seems to avail himself of another innovation in Porphyrian logic, the concept of an inseparable relation, which is not an intrinsic attribute of a subject yet pertains to the subject so long as it exists. At all times he prescinds from questions regarding the essence of divinity, which in his writings against Eunomius are repeatedly said to exceed any human power of comprehension.

The Categories and the Trinity Augustine, however, seems to be conversant with a version of Gregory’s reasoning which crosses the line between logic and ontology, and thus makes the Godhead a species of which the persons are individual members or else a genus of which they are three species (see further Lienhard 2008). Augustine was perhaps more conscious than any theologian before him that, in affirming the persons to be consubstantial, we not only attribute to them the common property of deitas or divinity but declare them to be identical with that being (deus or God) whom reason and scripture prove to be the only one of his kind (On the Trinity 5.11.12). The Greek term for that which is common to the three is ousia, which, though commonly rendered in Latin as substantia or substance, is the etymological counterpart of “essentia” or “essence” (5.2.3; 7.6.11). None of these terms, however, can be understood to signify a class to which three persons belong, as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all belonged to the class named “man”. It would be uncharitable to impute to Gregory the view that “God” is a class and each of the persons a discrete member of that class, but his argument may have reached Augustine through intermediaries. The Cappadocians do not afford a precedent for a second rejected hypothesis, that the persons are three species of one genus. This fails, Augustine argues, because, although the genus animal is divisible into species, a single animal is not; hence the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit cannot be three species of the one entity who is God (7.6.11; see further Erismann 2012: 152; Cross 2007). 210

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Gregory’s letter to Ablabius also draws a comparison between the three divine persons and three statues sculpted from the same gold. Augustine objects (again without naming an adversary) that this would imply a conversion from the potential to the actual, which is impossible in God, and it would not maintain the identity of all three with the one God, because “one statue is less of the gold than two” (7.6.11). If there is one respect in which Augustine can be said to have followed Gregory, it is in his insistence that the attributes which distinguish the persons are relations rather than essential properties (see further Cross 2003). In characterising the Spirit as the love which binds the Father to the Son, he all but identifies the person with the relation, and he may be acquainted, as A.C. Lloyd suggests (1972: 201–202), with Plotinus’ argument that relations are more substantial than Aristotle would allow. At the same time, he distinguishes love as substance and love as activity (9.2.2), and we ought not to seek any final pronouncement on the meaning of “person” from a text in which he disclaims any understanding of the term and in which his thoughts avowedly never come to rest (cf. 5.9.10 and 15.22.42). A further corrective to the misuse of Aristotelian logic is administered by Cyril of Alexandria in the second of his seven books On the Trinity. His enemies, once again, are the Eunomians, whom he taxes with incompetence in “the Aristotelian art” when they define the Fathers’ ousia by a reified adjective, the ingenerate or agennêton. The category of ousia, he reminds them, contains the genus and the species, both of which are predicable of many (see further Boulnois 1994: 195–197). The answer to the question “what is a human being?” is not that a human being is an animal, for the names of all species falling under this genus are (in the Aristotelian sense) synonymous (On the Trinity 726d–728d). Even to add that human beings are mortal differentiates them only from God and the angels; only when we say further that we are rational, or receptive of mind and knowledge, have we defined our peculiar status in the world. When the Eunomians, therefore, propose to characterise the Father by one adjective, “unbegotten”, we must ask them whether this signifies the genus or the differentia. If it signifies the genus, Cyril argues, it tells us nothing; a genus of things unbegotten would be a heterogeneous class of which the Father was only one member. He does not expressly consider the possibility that “unbegotten” might be not so much the differentia of a genus as the idion, or property of a species – that is, the typical and peculiar characteristic which enables us to pick out all and only the beings which belong to that species. Yet he tacitly entertains and reject this thesis when he contends that if unbegottenness were the salient and peculiar characteristic of the Father, it would be as much a necessary truth that “the unbegotten is the Father” as that “the Father is unbegotten”. By way of analogy, he adduces the adjective chremetôdes – hinnibile in Latin – which is the property of being able to neigh (cf. Thesaurus 445b, 449d). This being the salient and peculiar property of the horse, it is as true to say that the hinnible is the horse as that the horse is hinnible (731c–d). For reasons that have been set out earlier, however, the unbegotten is a class that includes more than the Father, and hence the statement “the Father is unbegotten” is not subject to the same logical inversion (717c–d etc.). The true idion of the Father is not to be unbegotten but to generate the Son (716d). Sonship and Fatherhood are therefore mutually implicative (734a–b), as they are in the world and as all relations are in the Categories of Aristotle (6b28).

Two Christian philosophers on the Trinity All the authors reviewed so far accepted it as an axiom that there cannot be three gods. The foremost of all Greek commentators on Aristotle, however, was John Philoponus, a pupil of the philosopher Ammonius, and perhaps for this reason less willing than most Christians to put logic entirely at the service of dogma (Van Roey 1980). His argument (so far as it can be 211

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retrieved from its Syriac remains) is built on two unexceptionable premises – that divine ousia or substance is nothing over and above the three hypostases, and that that which the three hypostases have in common is not strictly denumerable (Fr. 1.1 van Roey). The first of these is universally orthodox, while the second is anticipated in the eighth letter of Basil of Caesarea. Philoponus, however, is the one who underwrites it with the Peripatetic doctrine that the second, or universal, ousia is nothing in the world and has a referent only when it is predicated of some concrete particular, or first ousia (Erismann 2008: 291 compares Aristotle, On the Soul 402b7). We may say that it exists as a mental idea, yet this idea has no number, or rather is one and many at once insofar as it cannot be divided in thought yet is parcelled out to an indefinite multitude of particulars (Fr. 1.3). If we extend this reasoning to the theotês or divinity which is ascribed to all three persons, we have said that this is not something in addition to the hypostases, yet no one will contend that it is nothing. What is real is the concrete entity, in this case the hypostasis of Father, Son or Spirit, and God is each of them, not a fourth thing extracted from them; and thus the real divinity of each is his own divinity, not the universal which we abstract from them (1.5a). Divinity is ascribed severally, not generically, and hence there are three ousiai and three natures, though they are of a single species; the error of the Sabellians is to conflate the three persons, while that of the Arians is to allot each of the three concrete natures to its own species. We may wonder how much of the argument is merely terminological, but it sufficed to make a heretic of Philoponus, even if the opprobrious term “tritheist” is undeserved (see further Erismann 2010, 2008: 283–287). In his treatise On the Trinity, Boethius achieved a more orthodox baptism of Peripatetic logic. Echoing the preface to Metaphysics 6, he divides philosophy into three branches: mathematics, physics and divinity (On the Trinity 2.5–16). The last is the highest because it takes for its subject form without matter. A form is by definition what it is, which is to say that all its properties are essential (2.20–21). Although this is indeed the character of the form in Plato, it is also the Greek etymology of the name of the Biblical God, who is the only named denizen of this incorporeal realm in the treatise (2.30–31). Boethius goes on to urge that, since a form becomes subject to accidents only when united with matter, no accidents can be predicated of forms which are exempt from matter and hence from all potentiality for transformation (2.42–46). When a man is just, the man is one thing and his justice is another; when we say of God that he is just, however, he and his justice are one (4.36–41). By the same reasoning, God cannot occupy place, for place is related only contingently to its occupant; to say that he is everywhere is to say that all place is equally present to him (4.54–59). To be, as we have remarked, is of his essence; so then, on the Aristotelian principle that to be is to be one is unity (2.55–57). So far the exposition rests, as it will continue to rest, on premises that are wholly Platonic or Aristotelian; and yet it is already evident that the faith defended here is one that neither of these philosophers entertained. Can three be one? Boethius follows not only Aristotle but Plotinus in distinguishing between number as an arithmetic quantity and number as a property of the objects to which arithmetic is applied (3.8–9). This contrast between the numerable and the numerator plays its role in other writings by the great Alexandrian, and it also informs Augustine’s reflections on the nature of time; neither of these authors, however, foresees the corollaries which were to be drawn from it by Boethius. The arithmetic unit, he contends, can be added to others to make a plurality, so that as a mathematical proposition it is true that 1+1+1 = 3 (3.9–10). In the realm of substance, on the other hand, no multiplication of unity is possible: to affirm that each of the persons who is God is also a unity is as though one were to say “sword”, then “blade”, then “brand” (3.19–22). This is a Porphyrian example of homonymity, which permits us to apply three distinct terms to an identical object. And yet, this is not the logic of the Trinity, as Boethius 212

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concedes, for while we hold that the Father, the Son and the Spirit are a single God, we do not hold that they differ only in name (3.49–53). Since they are of one essence, which is nothing less than the unity of the Godhead, they cannot differ in their essential qualities. Quantity cannot be predicated of incorporeal subjects, and hence it is only the category of relation that can set one apart from another (5.1–5). The relations of eternal and unchanging objects cannot be contingent, as they are in the world of material particulars; at the same time, it remains as true of the higher world as of the lower that the essence is independent of relation (5.17–34). God, who is identical with his own essence, cannot differ from God with respect to his divinity, and it is consequently the one God who is identical with Father, Son and Spirit (5.42–57). Nor can these persons occupy different spaces, as otherwise identical particulars do in our world (5.49). It is the very predication of relations, and this alone, that constitutes the numerability (numerositas) of the Trinity, while the unity consists in the indifferentia, or indiscernibility, of the essence (6.1–7). Such is the peculiar logic of incorporeality, which we apprehend by intellect, not by the senses or the imagination, and thus (as Boethius intimates) by the science of divinity but not by those of physics or mathematics.

The Categories and Christology Aristotelian terminology enters the Christological debate with a tentative borrowing from Porphyry by Cyril of Alexandria. Resolved as he is to present an account of one Christ who is both God and man, he affirms that all Christ’s attributes, both divine and human, are idia – that is, proper – to the Logos: because, however, his human individuality came into being only when he assumed the flesh, his human attributes have the status of accidents, whereas those that he has by virtue of his divinity are inseparable and eternal (Siddals 1987: 350–358). Cyril is here subsuming under the one term idion both the essential properties of a species and the contingent properties of an individual, which Porphyry preferred to call idiômata. Following Alexander of Aphrodisias, Cyril and his disciples recognise three kinds of mixture: juxtaposition (parathesis), mingling (mixis) and mixture (krasis). Severus of Antioch writes that in his character as God the Word is simple, while as Christ he is the composite of his ousiai, by which we must understand not merely an aggregate of qualities, but that in which the qualities inhere. The God-man cannot simply be a composite of divine and human properties, any more than a man can be constituted simply by rationality and blackness (First Letter, at Torrance 1988: 155). In contrast to Cyril, Severus declares that the nature or ousia of the God whom Christians worship is not one to an idion can be assigned (Torrance 1988: 193). In his third letter, the noun ousia no longer denotes a nature but, as in the Categories, a concrete entity, for example a man or a horse (Torrance 1988: 207). If nature and ousia are synonymous, to be in two natures is to be two ousiai: Christ the Word, however, is one ousia whose nature is immutable even when he takes the flesh which is our nature to be his own flesh (Torrance 1988: 208–211). Leontius of Byzantium, in his treatise Against the Nestorians and Eutychians, attempts to refute Severus by distinguishing the hypostasis from the enhupostatos, or hypostatic. The monophysites (that is, advocates of a single nature in Christ), are right to assert that a nature must be hypostatic, but wrong to identify either the divine or the human nature of Christ with his one hypostasis. To say that the phusis – that is, the ousia – is hypostatic rather than anhypostatic (anhupostatos) is to say that it subsists in an individual, and it is true that no nature can subsist otherwise. But, whereas the ousia confers the eidos or form on the subject, the hypostasis is the subject itself, subsisting as this individual; the ousia gives the katholikon pragma – the thing taken universally – its kharaktêr or distinctive mark (134.8), but we speak of the hypostasis in distinguishing the ­individual from the universal (134.5–9). A hypostasis may be one of many 213

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individuals, sharing one nature but differing in number, or a composite of two natures, which (as with soul and body) cannot subsist alone, although neither belongs to the definition of the other (134.18–19). The hypostasis is common to both natures, yet each nature has its own logos (134.20) – a conscious echo, no doubt, of logos tês ousias in the first sentence of the Categories, just as the enhupostatos approximates to the first ousia when it is defined as that which does not exist as an accident or in another subject (132.22–23). As every hypostasis therefore is enousios (that is to say, a representative of a universal substance), so every ousia, if it has a place in our world, is enhupostatos, or hypostatic (see further Daley 1976 against Loofs 1887: 65–68). The adjectives, like the nouns, are complementary, one universalising the individual and one individuating the universal (see further Krausmüller 2011; Zachhuber 2014). In a supplementary treatise handling certain arguments in a more technical manner, Leontius reminds Severus that Cyril regarded “Christ” as a titular designation, and hence did not accord to it the same onomastic function that we accord to such nouns as “ox”, “horse” and “human being”, each of which can indeed be said to denote a single phusis, when we mean by this a particular member of an eidos or species (328.10–15). Although he eschews the nomenclature of the Categories, he clearly implies that Severus has confused the second with the first ousia, thus mistaking the person who is Jesus Christ for that which we predicate of him. Philoponus wrote his Arbiter to prove that Cyril’s description of Christ as “one divine nature enfleshed” was a more perspicuous formulation of the truth that Chalcedon had also tried to convey in its illogical attribution of two natures to the one person of Jesus Christ. By nature, as he explains in a tacit rebuttal of Leontius, we may mean either the “common intelligible content” of a species or the instantiation of that common content in an individual being (Lang 2001: 191). No being can be an instantiation of two common natures; when therefore we wish to affirm that Christ is the perfect representative both of divinity and of humanity, we do not say with Chalcedon that he has two natures, but rather that he is of one composite nature. He goes on to repeat an analogy drawn by Cyril between the conjunction of the divine and the human in Christ and the conjunction of soul and body in human beings: just as a soul and a body constitute not one man but two, so too in Christ there is only one person, fully God and fully man. The assumption that soul and body are distinct yet inseparable is more reminiscent of Aristotle’s doctrine that the soul is the form of the body than of Plato’s view that the body is a temporary instrument of the soul. Boethius, a distinguished commentator on the logical works of Aristotle (Shiel 1990), was also a zealous champion of Chalcedonian orthodoxy. He commences his refutation of both the monophysites and the Nestorians by setting out three definitions of nature. The first, derived from the Categories, comprehends whatever exists in any sense, excluding only that which is nihil or nothing (Against Eutyches and Nestorius 1.7–17). The second, derived from the Physics, makes nature is the principle of all motion that is proper rather than extrinsic to the moving subject (1.39–40). According to the third definition, nature is the differentia which stamps a thing as a member of a species (1.54–55). Here the corresponding term would seem to be idion (property), as this was employed in Porphyry’s Isagoge, and Boethius admits as much when he later defines a nature as “the specific property of a given substance” (4.7). Pursuing the method of Porphyry’s Isagoge, Boethius now divides corporeal substances into the living and the nonliving, the living into the sentient and non-sentient, and the sentient into the rational and the irrational (2.18–23). The term persona, predicable only of rational beings (2.28–36), has the converse definition to that of natura: “the individual substance of a rational nature (naturae rationabilis individua substantia)” at 3.4–5. Substantia is here understood to signify the concrete subject of properties, in contrast to subsistentia, which signifies that which requires no properties for its existence. Genera and species are examples of subsistentiae, and so is God, that is the 214

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undifferentiated Godhead, in contrast to the Father, the Son and the Spirit, who are called substantiae not because they are differentiated by their accidents but because they provide the world with its ontological foundation (3.87–98). Each of us is a substantia which instantiates a subsistentia; in God before incarnation, the subsistentia and the substantia coincide (3.87–90). The incarnate Christ is one substantia, in the sense of a concrete subject of properties; he has taken on a natura in the third sense by becoming a member of the human species. The two natures and the one person coexist because person and nature belong to different orders of being and can stand in two different relations to one another. That person or rational substance who is Christ is now a particular instance of that subsistentia which is exhibited in all humans, but has not (as the monophysites fancy) ceased to be identical with the eternal subsistentia which is God.

Time and eternity The two most accomplished philosophers of the ancient church were Boethius and Philoponus, the one perhaps a reader and the other a disciple of the Peripatetic Ammonius of Alexandria. It will therefore be instructive to end this chapter with a summary of their two most celebrated arguments, one a refinement of Origen’s defence of divine foreknowledge, the other a counterpoint to the most important thesis of Gregory of Nyssa in his vindication of the Nicene Creed. In his Consolation of Philosophy, the imprisoned Boethius takes up the case for providence against those who opine that human affairs are ruled by fate. His interlocutor, Dame Philosophy, tells him that fate is the temporal bailiff of providence, which issues its decrees in accordance with the simplicity of the divine intelligence before entrusting the execution of them to the temporal nexus (4.6.25–42). Thus everything has its reason, whether or not it is visible to us. The wicked are punished as an example to others and spared in order that they may repent (4.6.162–167); the good who appear to be cut off prematurely will not be called to account for the sins that they might otherwise have committed (4.6.133–140). In Book 5, the discussion turns to chance, which in the common view is no less inimical to human liberty than is fate. Philosophy notes that Aristotle defines chance as the unintended confluence of two intentional actions (5.1.35–38): such an outcome, unforeseen though it is, is the intelligible corollary of acts which are free and purposeful, and thus no proof that our destiny lies outside our control. The true enemy of freedom is choice itself when we surrender ourselves to vice and allow our reason to be swallowed by animal passions (5.1.20–27). But now a new difficulty arises: how can we be free if our actions have been foreseen by God since before the beginning of the world? Even if we say that the event is the cause of knowledge, and not the knowledge of the event, the very fact that God knows now what I shall do in the future entails that I am not able to influence my own future and hence am not free (5.16.16–40). Philosophy rejoins that to God all times are one, the future no less than the past: his knowledge of the future is at once no less definitive, and no more determinative, than our knowledge of the past (5.4.46–56). To explain how such timeless cognition is possible for God yet unattainable for us, she draws a distinction between the intelligible and the rational, which Boethius himself had already broached in his logical writings. Our senses perceive the material phenomenon; imagination grasps the material object in its totality, while reason abstracts the universal form which gives us a knowledge of its essence (5.5.26–38). The higher faculty comprehends the lower but is not comprehended by it; our ways as rational creatures are perfectly known to God, but his intellectual vision remains unfathomable to us (5.5.46–56). God is eternal, the world perpetual: the events that unfold in the future of the world will be contingent in themselves, as they are products of free agency, but insofar as God knows them – or, as we wrongly say, foreknows them – it is necessarily true that they will occur (5.5.59–72). 215

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Boethius rather ignores than refutes the Aristotelian arguments for the eternity of the cosmos. Christians before him had been content to set revelation against philosophy, or at most to protest that the world cannot be created in time because time and the world are coeval. ­Philoponus was the first to undertake a rebuttal of Aristotle on Aristotelian premises, maintaining in his Commentary on the Physics that if the world had no beginning we should be forced to admit that the number of humans who have lived before us constitutes an infinite set. His most extensive arguments are directed not against Aristotle himself but against the Neoplatonist Proclus, whose theses demonstrating the eternity of the world were all the more difficult to answer when they mimicked the catholic arguments for the eternity of the Son. If it is true that the Father begets the Son by virtue of his mere existence, why is it not equally true that by virtue of his existence he is always creating a world? If God is changeless, Proclus contends, his dunamis is eternal, and his energeia will also be eternal. If we posit instead a temporary energeia supervening upon an eternal dunamis, we are bound to posit a god above the demiurge, since Aristotle teaches that whatever exists in dunamis cannot actualise itself but must be actualised by that which already exists in energeia (43.8–24). Philoponus answers Aristotle from Aristotle: the Metaphysics distinguishes two kinds of dunamis, receptivity and habit. It is true that a boy who is merely receptive to knowledge cannot learn without a teacher, but the teacher who already possesses the knowledge may elect either to exercise or not to exercise it, requiring in both cases no other agency than his own will (41.3–42.17). This second dunamis, or hexis, is also the first energeia, or actuality, of its possessor, which makes possible the exercise of the second energeia or activity (48.25–49.6). Thus, while his eternal capacity for creation does entail that God is eternally the Creator, it does not entail the eternity of the cosmos, because it is one thing to be the creator in actuality and another to exercise the creative activity (49.20–24). But does this not entail some change in a God who is supposed to be immutable? Equating Plato’s demiurge with the unmoved mover of Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Proclus objects that, since he cannot undergo change, he cannot begin to cause that of which he was hitherto not the cause (55.25–56.14). If, on the other hand, we suppose that the mover too is subject to kinesis, we must conclude that its energeia was hitherto atelês or imperfect, since (as Aristotle points out) the perfect cannot become more perfect and would not allow its perfection to be impaired (56.15–22). Again the response of Philoponus is to distinguish the energeia which consists in actuality from that which consists in activity: when the one who possesses the actuality exercises the activity, a change takes place indeed, but only (as Aristotle tells us) in the object of the action (87.13–18, citing On the Soul 417b5). The builder is not always building; when he does so, he does not become either more or less a builder, but the change occurs in the matter on which he works (66.12–16). From Aristotle, we also learn that the supervenience of the form on the matter is not a process but a consummation which occurs instantaneously (akhronôs at 63.4–5 and 65.19–21). Since God creates the matter with the form by a sovereign act of will, his activity and the instantaneous completion of his activity coincide. It follows that he is subject to none of the four kinds of kinêsis which are distinguished by Aristotle, for the common feature of generation, locomotion, growth and alteration is that all take place in time (68.23–74.23). The timelessness of divine knowledge and the timelessness of divine willing are the tantalising propositions advanced by these Christian sons of the Lyceum to counteract pagan criticisms of two fundamental articles of faith. The mediaeval elaboration of their arguments cannot be pursued in the present volume, but enough has been said to illustrate the piquancy of Aristotelian thought in late antiquity, both as a stimulus and as an astringent to Christian reasoning on things human and divine. 216

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Primary sources Alexander of Aphrodisias (1891), Aristotelis Metaphysica Commentaria, M. Hayducjk (ed.), Berlin: Reimer. Alexander of Aphrodisias (1892), Praeter Commentaria Scripta Minora: Quaestiones, De Fato, De Mixtione, I. Bruns (ed.), Berlin: Reimer. Aristotle (ed. and trans.), In Many Volumes of the Loeb Classical Library, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Augustine (1968), De Trinitate, W. J. Mountain and F. Glorie (eds.), 2 vols., Turnhout: Brepols. Boethius (1973), Theological Tractates; The Consolation of Philosophy, H. F. Stewart, E. K. Rand and S. J. Tester (eds. and trans.), Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Boethius (2013), Opuscula Sacra, C. Moreschini (ed.), A. Galonnier (trans. and commentary), Louvain: Peeters. Boulnois, O.-M. (1994), Le paradoxe trinitaire chez Cyrille d’Alexandrie, Paris: Institut d’Etudes Augustiniennes. Clement of Alexandria (1905–1970), Werke, O. Staehlin, L. Früchtel and U. Treu (eds.), Leipzig: Hinrichs. Cyril of Alexandria (1976–1978), Dialogues sur la Trinité, G. M. de Durand (ed.), 3 vols., Paris: Cerf. Pagination from Patrologia Graeca. Cyril of Alexandria, Thesaurus, De Trinitate, J. P. Migne (ed.), Paris: Cerf. Pagination from Patrologia Graeca 75. Gregory of Nyssa (1960–Present), Gregorii Nysseni Opera, Leiden: Brill. Hippolytus (2016), Refutation of All Heresies, D. Litwa (ed. and trans.), Atlanta, GA: SBL. Justin Martyr (2005), Apologiae, Dialogus cum Tryphone, M. Marcovich (ed.), Berlin: De Gruyter. Leontius of Byzantium (2017), Complete Works, B. E. Daley (ed. and trans.), Oxford: Oxford University Press. Origen (2017), First Principles, John Behr (ed. and trans.), Oxford: Oxford University Press. Origen (1897–1899), Gegen Celsus/Die Schrift vom Gebiet [i.e. On Prayer], P. Koetschau (ed.), Leipzig: Hinrichs. Philoponus (1887), In Aristotelis Physica Commentaria, Vitelli (ed.), Berlin: Reimer. Philoponus (1899), De Aeternitate Mundi contra Proclum, H. Rabe (ed.), Leipzig: Teubner. Plotinus (1966–1988), Enneads, A. H. Armstrong (ed. and trans.), 7 vols., Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Porphyry (2008), Commentaire aux Catégories d’Aristote, R. Brodéüs (ed.), Paris: Vrin. Porphyry (1887), Isagoge, A. Busse (ed.), Berlin: Reimer. Tertullian (1954), Opera, A. Gerlo (ed.), 2 vols., Turnhout: Brepols. Torrance, I. M. (1988), Christology after Chalcedon: Severus of Antioch and Sergius the Monophysite, Norwich: Canterbury Press.

Scholarly literature Adamo, L. (1967), “Boezio e Mario Vittorino, traduttori e interpreti di ‘Isagoge’ di Porfirio”, Revista critica di historia della filosofia 22, 121–141. Anscombe, G. E. M. (1956), “Aristotle and the Sea Battle”, Mind 65, 1–15. Barnes, J. (2003), Porphyry’s Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Barnes, M. D. (2001), The Power of God: Dunamis in Gregory of Nyssa’s Trinitarian Theology, Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press. Bazán, B. C. (1973), “L’authenticité de ‘De Intellectu’ attribué à Alexandre d’Aphrodisie”, Revue Philosophique de Louvain 71, 468–487. Bos, A. P. (2000), “Basilides as an Aristotelianizing Gnostic”, Vigiliae Christianae 54. Brentano, F. (1992), “Nous Poiêtikos: Survey of Earlier Interpretations”, in M. C. Nussbaum and A. O. Rorty (eds.), Essays on Aristotle’s De Anima, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 313–342. Chadwick, H. (1981), Boethius: The Consolations of Music, Logic, Theology and Philosophy, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Clark, E. A. (1977), Clement’s Use of Aristotle: The Aristotelian Contribution to Clement of Alexandria’s Refutation of Gnosticism, New York: Edward Mellen Press. 217

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Cross, R. A. (2003), “On Generic and Derivation Views of God’s Trinitarian Substance”, Scottish Journal of Theology 56, 464480. Cross, R. A. (2007), “Quid Tres? On What Precisely Augustine Professes Not to Understand in De Trinitate 5 and 7”, Harvard Theological Review 100, 215–232. Daley, B. (1976), “The Origenism of Leontius of Byzantium”, Journal of Theological Studies 27, 333–369. Düring, I. (1957), Aristotle in the Ancient Biographical Tradition, Stockholm: Alqvist och Wicksell. Edwards, M. J. (1990), “Hippolytus of Rome on Aristotle”, Eranos 88, 25–29. Edwards, M. J. (2016), “Porphyry and Cappadocian Logic”, Greek Orthodox Theological Review 61, 61–74. Edwards, M. J. (2019), Aristotle in Early Christian Thought, London: Routledge. Erismann, C. (2008), “The Trinity, Universals and Particular Substances: Philoponus and Roscelin”, Traditio 63, 277–305. Erismann, C. (2010), “John Philoponus on Individuality and Particularity”, in A. Torrance and J. Zachhuber (eds.), Individuality in Late Antiquity, Farnham: Ashgate, 143–160. Erismann, C. (2012), “La divisibilité de l’espèce selon Augustin, De Trinitate VII”, in E. Bermon and G. O’ Daly (eds.), Le De Trinitate de St. Augustin, Paris: Études Augustiniennes, 145–160. Grant, R. M. (1956), “Aristotle and the Conversion of Justin”, Journal of Theological Studies 7, 246–248. Hass, F. J. de (2001), “Did Plotinus and Porphyry Disagree on Aristotle’s ‘Categories’?”, Phronesis 46, 492–526. Havrda, M. (2012), “Categories in Stromata VIII”, Elenchos 199–233. Hatzimichali, M. (2013), “The Texts of Plato and Aristotle in the First Century BC”, in M. Schofield (ed.), Aristotle, Plato and Pythagoreanism in the First Century BC, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1–27. Karamanolis, G. (2006), Plato and Aristotle in Agreement, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Kosman, L. A. (1992), “What Does the Maker Mind Make?”, in M. C. Nussbaum and A. O. Rorty (eds.), Essays on Aristotle’s De Anima, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 343–358. Kosman, L. A. (2000), “Metaphysics Λ9: Divine Thought”, in M. Frede and D. Charles (eds.), Aristotle’s Metaphysics Lambda: Symposium Aristotelicum, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 307–326. Krausmüller, D. (2011), “Making Sense of the Formula of Chalcedon: The Cappadocians and Aristotle in Leontius of Byzantium’s Contra Nestorianos et Eutychianos”, Vigiliae Christianae 65, 484–513. Lang, U. M. (2001), John Philoponus and the Controversies Over Chalcedon in the Sixth Century, Leuven: Peeters. Lienhard, J. (2008), “Augustine of Hippo, Basil of Caesarea and Gregory Nazianzen”, in G. Demacopoulos and A. Paponikolaou (eds.), Orthodox Readings of Augustine, New York: St Vladimir’s Seminary, 82–99. Lloyd, A. C. (1972), “On Augustine’s Concept of a Person”, in R. A. Markus (ed.), Augustine: A Collection of Critical Essays, New York: Anchor Books, 91–205. Loofs, F. (1887), Leontius von Byzanz und die gleichnamiger Schriftsteller der griechicschen Kirche, Leipzig: Hinrichs. Moffat, J. (1916), “Aristotle and Tertullian”, Journal of Theological Studies 17, 170–171. Mueller, I. (1994), “Hippolytus, Aristotle, Basilides”, in L. Schrenk (ed.), Aristotle in Late Antiquity, Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 143–157. Ramelli, I. (2014), “Alexander of Aphrodisias: A Source of Origen’s Philosophy?”, Philosophie Antique 14, 151–205. Rist, J. M. (1973), “The One of Plotinus and the God of Aristotle”, Review of Metaphysics 27, 75–87. Shiel, J. (1990), “Boethius’ Commentaries on Aristotle”, in R. Sorabji (ed.), Aristotle Transformed: The Ancient Commentators and Their Influence, London: Duckworth, 349–372. Siddals, R. M. (1987), “Logic and Christology in Cyril of Alexandria”, Journal of Theological Studies 48, 341–367. Van Roey, A. (1980), “Fragments trithéites de Jean Philopone”, Orientalia Lovaniensia Periodica 11, 135–160. Viltanioti, I. F. (2017), “Porphyry’s Real Powers in Proclus’ Commentary on the Timaeus”, International Journal of the Platonic Tradition 11, 24–43. Zachhuber, J. (2014), “Individuality and the Theological Debate About Hypostasis”, in J. Zachhuber and A. Torrance (eds.), Individuality in Late Antiquity, Farnham: Ashgate. 218

17 Christians and Stoics Mark Edwards

If there was a dominant philosophy in the Roman world, it was that of the Stoics – or rather their ethical teaching, which was easily digested by a culture that prized tenacity of purpose and fidelity in discipline above more cerebral or emollient virtues (Arnold 1911). Those for whom philosophy was above all a practical exercise turned to the Stoics for moral casuistry and for advice on the education of the will. Stoic precepts found their way into rival systems, yet it was this school that produced the most enduring works of counsel of exhortation in the early Roman Empire, both in Latin and in Greek. The consequences of this pragmatic triumph, however, were not propitious to the survival of Stoicism as a philosophic sect, for in its insistence that nothing matters apart from conduct, it lost sight of its founders and developed no tradition of commentary to compete with that which perpetuated the writings of Plato and Aristotle under the aegis of Neoplatonism. Doctrines of the Stoa were adopted surreptitiously by Plotinus and his disciples (Porphyry, Life of Plotinus 14; Graese 1972), while its own professors have left barely a trace on history after Constantine. Thus, while the marks of Stoicism are everywhere, it is hard to say what was borrowed, what was absorbed through intermediaries and what had come to pass for received opinion. This chapter will confine itself to the age before Constantine, in which Stoicism still enjoyed sufficient prominence as a school to be identified as a source distinct from other traditions, including those were growing up within the church itself.

The early Stoa By the general agreement of ancient authors, the founder of Stoicism was Zeno of Citium, who came to Athens from Phoenicia in 313 B.C. He first took as his master the Cynic Crates, who, like the rest of his school, was largely indifferent to metaphysics and doggedly subversive rather than systematic in his ethical conduct. When Zeno set up as a teacher in the Stoa Poikilê (painted colonnade) from which the Stoics derived their name, he remained true to the chief principle of the Cynics, that nothing licensed by human societies can be foreign to human nature, and it is said that in his Republic he condoned the practice of incest on the argument that it was not forbidden in Persia (Diogenes Laertius, Lives 17.121; Waerdt 1994). In fact he maintained that the end of all moral striving and intellectual speculation was to live in accordance with nature; 219

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in contrast to the Cynics, however, he held that it is only through the study of philosophy in all its three branches – logic, ethics and physics – that we can ascertain what is truly in accordance with nature, that is with the goal not merely of loving but of living in rational equanimity. Humans being distinguished from the brute world by their capacity for reason, it is not enough that our impulses should be humoured, although these impulses are conducive to life, and in that sense good, in both animals and humans. The wise man’s quest for equanimity may require him to forgo the satisfaction of certain appetites and to place no value on the material goods that Aristotle had deemed essential to happiness. Such goods being all too often the gifts of fortune, another desideratum of equanimity is to leave to fate those things which we cannot control and to cultivate instead the one good that lies wholly within our power, the extinction of the passions. Fear and desire with respect to the future, exhilaration and grief with respect to the present, are the four tormentors of the untutored soul (Diogenes Laertius, Lives 7.116), and to have vanquished them completely is to be one’s master, even when in the world’s eyes one is labouring under poverty, pain, captivity or disgrace. It seems that Zeno’s position can be expounded with little reference to supernatural agency. While he is never characterized as an atheist, he has no concept of a transcendent god because he has no concept of the incorporeal. The soul which inhabits our bodies is a body of subtler texture; similarly the Logos or reason which pervades the cosmos, and to which the Greeks give the name of Zeus, is one of the elements, sometimes conceived as a tenuous species of fire, sometimes receiving the special appellation of pneuma or spirit. In its “spermatic character”, this Logos sows rational principles of existence, growth and action in all the beings that populate the universe (Diogenes Laertius, Lives 7.135–136). God alone survives the ekpurôsis, or final combustion, of each world, and as each successive world is a replica of the one that went before it, his memory is the source of his foreknowledge (SVF 2.625; Plutarch, Stoic Contradictions 1953b). Warm religious sentiment enters the Stoa only with Cleanthes, frequently described as its second founder, and remembered chiefly for his eloquent hymn to Zeus (SVF 1.537; Zuntz 1958). Here the principles of Zeno’s physics are fused with the Heraclitean doctrines that all things are changes of fire: and that these revolutions are governed by a logos to which the Logos within us bears witness (see Long 1975). Whereas Heraclitus, however, declares that God is indifferent to good and evil, Cleanthes ascribes to Zeus a paternal solicitude for the cosmos, crediting him with a love of that which seems to us unlovable, but denying him any part in the works of those who do evil through ignorance of law. The prayer of the sage will not be for any good of his own imagining, but only to be led at all times by “Zeus and destiny”, these two being one inasmuch as nothing ordained by fate can be contrary to nature. The refinement of Stoic philosophy in response to objections from other schools was not a work for a poet, and the third founder of the school, Chrysippus, was infamous not only for the abundance of his writings but for the ruggedness and obscurity of his style. He believed not only in God, but in gods, so long as it was understood that the myths of the poets are allegories in which the supernatural actors personify physical forces. Against those who denied that a corporeal deity can be omnipresent, he urged that nature furnishes examples of the mutual interpenetration of bodies whenever wine is mixed with water or iron suffused by fire; the same model will account for the presence of soul in body and that of god in the world (Todd 1976: 114–117). Gods and humans together constitute the cosmos or world which is the polis or commonwealth of the wise man (Diogenes Laertius, Lives 7.129–130; cf. Obbink 1999: 184). Against the Cynics and Sceptics who sneered at oracles, Chrysippus argued that if the gods love mortals they will wish to apprise them of impending dangers and tribulations (Cicero, On Divination 1.38.82–39.84). Against the Peripatetics, he maintained that definite knowledge of the future is conveyed by prophecy, drawing the corollary that whatever is predicted 220

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is predetermined. Against the idle argument – “once the birth of my child is foretold, it will come about even if I abstain from sexual congress” – he urged that the oracle implicitly predicts the required conditions for its fulfilment (Bobzien 1998: 198–217). It appears, however, that he was unwilling to draw the inference that I am not free if my actions are foreknown. On the contrary, human beings have a special place in the natural order because of their unique capacity for deliberation (SVF 2.1152). We are free to determine, not the course of events, but our own response to it; by aligning my reason with the omnipresent logos, I can achieve the goal of loving in accordance with nature – or at least of willing to do so, which is the true criterion of virtue (Cicero, On Ends 3.31). Every transgression is a falling away from my character as a rational agent, and Chrysippus endorsed the principle already laid down by Zeno, that all sins are of equal weight, and hence all equally unworthy of indulgence (SVF 3.529; Cicero, On Ends 4.56). The wise man may be only an ideal, but one who propagates that ideal in act and word will have no pity for the infirmities of others, any more than for his own. As they acknowledged no one founder, later Stoics could boast that they were not bound by an ipse dixit, like the adepts of Epicurus and Pythagoras; nor did they ever imitate the Platonists and Peripatetics in the writing of commentaries on their intellectual precursors. Our specimens of Stoic commentary are the Homeric Allegories of a certain Heraclitus, which apply figurative readings to texts that would otherwise expose the poet to charges of impiety, and the Epidrome of Cornutus, which expounds the attributes of the Greek gods according to a variety of forced and ingenious etymologies (see further Most 1989). It was even possible for a professing Stoic like Posidonius, the head of a school in Rhodes, to maintain against Chrysippus that the affections (which he distinguishes from passion) cannot be uprooted from the soul (Cooper 1999). This argument assumes, with the Platonists, that the soul is a composite, whereas Zeno and Chrysippus had both maintained that the pneuma which constitutes the soul is as homogeneous as God. Posidonius also appears to have ramified the Stoic understanding of providence by setting it above both fate and nature (Laffranque 1964: 33–34). For all that, Posidonius agrees with his Stoic precursors that nothing is good but the will to live in accordance with nature, and that divination is possible only because whatever the gods foresee is fated to occur (Laffranque 1964: 347).

The Roman era In the absence of a prose classic, the most popular introduction to Stoic cosmology was the Phaenomena of Aratus, a versified itinerary of stars which coupled weather lore with moral exhortation in its eloquent stratigraphy of the cosmos. In the Roman era, ethics began to dominate Stoic teaching, and it is almost equally true that Stoic teaching began to dominate ethics. Antiochus of Ascalon, for example, drew heavily on this tradition in his efforts to escape the scepticism of Carneades (itself an antidote to Stoic dogmatism) and furnish the Academy with a system of probable, if not irrefragable, beliefs. Cicero appears in his treatise On Ends to prefer the casuistry of Antiochus to the doctrinaire invocation of either nature or pleasure as the sole criterion of the Good. Nevertheless, he shows a clear partiality for the Stoics not only in this work but in his dialogue On the Nature of the Gods, where the Stoic interlocutor, though apparently worsted in argument by the Sceptic, is none the less judged to hold the most likely position. In the Tusculan Disputations, an exercise in self-consolation after the death of Cicero’s daughter Tullia, he no longer thinks it excessive to seek the passionlessness which, according to Chrysippus, would teach a man to be happy even when he is being roasted alive. Not only the leading philosopher of his day but the leading poet, Cicero is the author of the first of three Latin renderings of Aratus. Yet, then as now, he owed his fame above all to his versatility as an 221

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advocate, and when his brief demanded it, he could ridicule Cato the Younger for his moral intractability and his refusal to acknowledge degrees of sin (For Murena 60–66). Cato is the most lauded character, though not the hero, of Lucan’s unheroic poem The Civil War, in which we are given to understand that the better cause was not the one that pleased the gods. Lucan, executed for conspiracy against Nero, nonetheless belongs to a roll of Stoics who achieved political martyrdom. Exile rather than death was the lot of Musonius Rufus, a preacher whose extant homilies, or fragments of homilies, show no interest either in theology or in natural philosophy, but argue for vegetarianism in diet, for faithful marriage as the cement of society and for the teaching of philosophy to both sexes on the premiss that they are equal in mental capacity (Inwood 2017). Lucan’s uncle Seneca, a more seminal thinker than either, was required on the same occasion to take his own life. His Stoicism had not forbidden either to write bloody works for the stage or to flatter Nero with a lampoon on his predecessor Claudius. His philosophical writings are predominately ethical, except for his seven books on natural questions. At his most conversational, in his Letters to Lucilius, he is a latitudinarian, freely quoting from Epicurus and confessing his inability to sustain his youthful experiment in vegetarianism (Letter 108.23). His treatise On Clemency celebrates a virtue seldom commended by the Greek Stoics, although in Rome it had been more often praised than practised. His treatise On Anger, by contrast, is as rigorous as any of his precursors could have wished in its prohibition of consent to the incipient stirrings of passion. Together with Aulus Gellius (Attic Nights 19.1.15–21), Seneca is our witness to the Stoic doctrine that every passion is preceded by a first motion or propatheia, originating only in our somatic nature and hence not culpable unless it is ratified by the will (On Anger 2.3.1 etc.). He is no less austere in theodicy than in psychology, admonishing readers of his essay On Providence that the righteous suffer unjustly so that others may learn to accept their due of suffering (6.3): if we would not be dragged hither and thither by fortune (5.4), we must yield ourselves voluntarily to fate (5.8). Rome was also the home of Epictetus, a pupil of Musonius, and the only slave in the ancient world to have left us a substantial body of writing. He expounded the works of Chrysippus and adopted an equally hirsute style in his own discourses, which were transcribed by his freeborn pupil Arrian. He will not, for all that, allow the “slaves” who frequent his school to imagine that mere quotation will buy their freedom: to have mastered the whole of Chrysippus is no more a test of virtue than to own a pair of dumbbells is a proof of muscular strength. His originality seems to lie above all in his conviction that it lies in our own power of choice (prohairesis) to cultivate virtue, doggedly though not infallibly, by the right use of our mental impressions (Long 2002: 34, 207–222). Notwithstanding his firm belief in providence, Epictetus can admire the self-sufficiency of the Cynic, limning his ideal portrait in a long sermon on the labours of Heracles (Discourses 3.22). More eloquent, more urbane and not so rigid a Stoic is the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, whose notes to himself are popularly known as his Meditations (Rist 1982). Marcus seems, as Porphyry was to say of Plotinus, ashamed to be in the body, and preserves his inward probity by frequent meditation on its decay (Meditations 9.3 etc.; Rutherford 1989: 244–250). His moral fortitude is enhanced by a Roman desire to do the work of a man (8.26; 10.8), and his faith in providence by a Platonic sense of an indwelling god.

Stoicism and Early Christianity It is no surprise that the first Stoic to be cited in Christian literature is Aratus, for he is that “poet of your own” who, according to Paul on the Areopagus, had declared all humans to be the offspring of God (Acts 17.28). The Stoics and Epicureans to whom he preached will have observed that he substituted god for Zeus and modified the verb eimen (we are) to esmen, two 222

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changes anticipated by the Jewish apologist Aristobulus (Edwards 1992). Whether or not he knew Aratus at first hand, the apostle’s desire to gather all nations into the politeuma or citizenship of heaven (Philippians 3.21) has been compared to the exhortations of the Stoics that the wise should be citizens of the world – or, as Marcus Aurelius said, should address their hymns no more to the city of Cecrops but to the city of Zeus (Meditations 4.23; Stanton 1968). Philo had already commended Abraham as a kosmopolitês (On the Migration of Abraham 11.58), hinting that he had left behind the errors of the Stoics when he bade farewell to the astrologers of Chaldaea. In Every Good Man is Free, he superimposes the attributes of the Stoic sage on the righteous Jew, and Paul is equally zealous in his teaching that the precondition of freedom is to renounce all that the world loves. In Paul as in the Stoics, the pneuma or spirit is not only the ruling element in the soul but the medium of both power and knowledge in God himself. Analogies have been multiplied to fill whole volumes and volumes have been written to say in reply that the God of the Stoics is not a creator or an active figure in history, that no meaning could have been attached by a Stoic to his incarnation, that even Stoics who entertained some notion of immortality never envisaged a resurrection of the body, and that Paul’s account of our present state of bondage is incomprehensible without some notion of a historic fall and the corporate propagation of sin (see further Engberg-Pedersen 2000). Stoic and Cynic are both protean categories, as is evident from the fact that Epictetus serves as a quarry for parallels between the teaching of both schools and that of the gospels. The Jesus of Mark, who is certainly no stranger to first motions, masters grief and fear with exemplary resolution (Thorsteinsson 2018: 33–71): it is not, however, the mere subjugation of passion that distinguishes the Stoic. Seneca, like Jesus, tells us not to return a blow (On Curbing Anger 2.32), but then neither his arguments for the restraint of anger nor his precepts for maintaining this restraint are those of the Sermon on the Mount. This is not to deny that there is much in common between the outward forms of Christian and Stoic morality; we can only be astonished indeed that so little of this appears in the forged correspondence of Paul and Seneca, whose author fails to credit either man with a sentiment worthy of repetition. Nor, although he wrote Latin of the kind that the apostle might have acquired in a Roman prison, does he come within sight of the unlaboured elegance for which Seneca strove in his letters and discourses (see further, however, Ramelli 2013). There is more philosophy in the Greek commentary on Aratus which Hippolytus published as a document of the Peratic heresy (Refutation 4.46–50; 5.12–13): he names its author as the magician Euphrates, who is otherwise unknown unless we identify him with the Stoic philosopher who is praised by Pliny but vilified by Philostratus in his Life of Apollonius as an unprincipled rival and gadfly to the Pythagorean sage (Edwards 1994). Justin Martyr mentions the Stoics in his First Apology only to charge them (erroneously) with teaching that God will perish in the final conflagration (First Apology 20). In his Second Apology (7), he complains that they err again by supposing that all is subject to fate, thus denying freedom of choice not only to humans and angels but to God himself, and robbing the fire of its proper use as an instrument of moral retribution. The ethical philosophy of the Stoics, on the other hand, he finds admirable, citing Musonius in particular (Second Apology 8). They owe this, he says, to the seed of the logos in every nation, and he credits them in chapter 13 with a share in the spermatic logos which gives them knowledge of that which is akin (to sungenes). This passage is confessedly obscure (see Holte 1958), but Justin tells us clearly enough in his First Apology (44) that, while some Greeks possess enough logos or reason to see the folly and turpitude of polytheism, the “seeds” which propagate knowledge of the true God are sown by prophecy and not by direct communication to the philosophers. It is likely, as Thorsteinsson argues (2012), that most of his information came at second hand, already accompanied by the “stock criticisms”. Athenagoras ascribes to the Stoics the Heraclitean doctrine that God is a fire 223

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which pervades all things and assumes the character of each substance, deducing that while ­ choing they are polytheists in name they acknowledge the unity of God (Embassy 6; cf. 22). E Justin, he urges that if all things are doomed to be swallowed up in the last conflagration, the gods themselves will perish, and the operation of providence (distinguished as the active cause from matter, the passive cause) will come to nothing (Embassy 19). Tatian, in his one reference to them, notes that the Stoics in fact acknowledge no final day, and contrasts their doctrine of recurrent cycles with the Christian scenario of a once-for-all resurrection (Oration to the Greeks 6). Irenaeus holds that the soul is able to receive a figure coterminous with the body that it inhabits (Against Heresies 2.19.4; 2.34.4); he seems to agree with Chrysippus in regarding the human person as a mixture by penetration of two corporeal substances, each retaining its properties and the capacity to act upon the other (Briggman 2019: 140–162). On the other hand, while he describes the incarnation as a mixture in which the divine and the human retain their specific properties, the incorporeality of the Logos forbids us to treat this as a union analogous to that of soul and body. The Logos may act through the flesh or may choose to be dormant, but it is never the subject of reciprocal action. The model for later accounts of the incarnation was the “unconfused commingling” of corporeals and incorporeals postulated by Ammonius Saccas, the teacher of Plotinus (Nemesius, Nature of Man 2.108); since, however, Irenaeus could not have read Ammonius, we must be willing to grant that this may be a case in which a Christian, holding by faith what no Greek school could prove by reason, found himself stumbling into originality. It has been argued that a younger contemporary of Irenaeus, Callistus of Rome, conceived the two natures as partners in Christ’s suffering (Heine 1998: 75–78), but the evidence comes at second hand from an unfriendly source (Hippolytus, Refutation 9.12.18). Even the learned Clement of Alexandria, who cites Plato over 600 times and frequently in his own words, would be judged to know almost nothing of the Stoics if explicit naming and quotation were the sole proofs of acquaintance. Although he thinks Chrysippus the prince of logicians, he offers no anatomy of Stoic logic in his eighth book to match his enumeration of Aristotle’s ten categories or his paraphrase of the method of collection and division in the ­Sophist. Stoic views on the origin of the sun are mentioned only to illustrate the dissonance of philosophical opinions (Stromateis 8.2.4.3), while their refusal to grant a soul to plants exemplifies the difficulties of agreeing on definitions even of terms that all schools have in common (8.4.10.4). Of course, he abhors the notion that the Creator of all bodies should be a body (Stromateis 1.10.51.1), imputing to the Stoics the Epicurean tenet that God needs sensory organs (7.7.37.1), and complaining at Protrepticus 66.3 that they make him a prisoner to the basest of his creatures. The theory that God pervades the world as an architectonic fire (Stromateis 5.14.100.4) is said (at least obliquely) to be derived from Heraclitus at Stromateis 5.1.9.4 and 5.14.105.1. He notes with approval that, while they make matter the substrate of the cosmos (Stromateis 5.14.89.5), the Stoics do not hold the cosmos to be eternal (5.14.97.4). Without naming them, he reveals an accurate knowledge of Stoic discussions of causality, distinguishing the four species of cause as prokatarctic, synectic, cooperative and prerequisite. The Father, he explains, is the prokatarctic or primordial cause of education, the teacher the prerequisite of conditional cause, the pupil the cooperative cause, and time the prerequisite cause which in itself does nothing (Stromateis 8.9.33.1–9). This seems to be his own version of the taxonomy of Chrysippus (see Bobzien 1999: 218–228), which Clement pursues through its further r­efinements  – distinguishing joint from cooperative causes and noting that causes often act reciprocally  – to a point that was more likely to be reached in the second century by critics or parodists of the school than by practising Stoics for whom ethics constituted the whole of philosophy (see Plutarch, Stoic Contradictions 1055f–1056d). 224

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Clement himself commends their moral teaching and has sometimes been regarded as their disciple (Parker 1901). At Stromateis 2.4.19.4, he reproduces a list of the virtues that accompany wisdom, and at 4.4.19.1 he applauds their view that the soul of the wise man cannot be inclined to good or evil by the affections of the body. While he notes affinities between the ethical teachings of the Stoics and those of the Platonists (5.14.97.2–6 and 6.2.27.3), and even accuses Zeno of plagiarism from his Athenian predecessor (5.14.95.1–2; cf. 2.19.101.1), he credits the Stoics alone with the Pauline doctrine that the true city of the righteous is heaven (4.26.172.2), he admires the severe pronouncement that not even a finger ought to be stirred without reason (2.10.83.1), and he is familiar with the use of the adjective kathêkôn to denote right action on the basis of reason (1.12.102.2). He knows enough of the history of the school to say that the younger Stoics urge us to live in accordance with the human constitution rather than nature (2.21.129.5). He justifies his own practice of reading the scriptures allegorically by asserting that some of Zeno’s book were reserved for his close disciples (5.9.58.2), and he argues that the Stoics agree with Plato and the scriptures when they describe the soul’s conversion to wisdom as a turning to God (4.6.28.1). For all that, he suspects that their materialism, entailing as it does that our reasoning faculty participates in the one Logos, has the atheistic corollary that divine and human virtues are the same (7.7.31.1). Clement is the first Christian writer to inculcate apatheia, or passionlessness, as the virtue of the ideal Christian (Osborn 2005: 236–240). He is also unique among catholic theologians in maintaining that Christ, the paragon of humanity, was so exempt from bodily infirmity that even his hunger in the wilderness was affected for our sake (Stromateis 3.7.59.1; see Grillmeier 1975: 357–35). Here we see what separates the churchman from the Stoic, for whereas the latter sets the wise man before himself as a pattern without supposing that such a man has ever existed, the Christian regards Christ not only as the living paradigm of wisdom but as the one who has created every human in his image with the intention of shaping every human into his perfect likeness (Osborn 2005: 233–236). Again Christ is the exemplar of autarkeia or self-sufficiency, a condition cultivated by the Stoics in emulation of the Cynics, who professed to have attained it (see further Gibbons 2017: 131–166). In Clement autarkeia is above all freedom from avarice, in accordance with the Old Testament’s praise of the righteous man as one who feeds the poor. Because the relief of the poor is their true obligation, rather than the mere exoneration of their souls from material burdens, Clement advises his wealthy coreligionists that they need not give up their possessions so long as they hold them at the disposal of the church and perceive that they themselves are the true recipients of mercy when their alms are repaid with blessing (Who is the Wise man that shall be Saved?). Stoic philanthropy does not commonly take this form and is not commonly underwritten by the hope of enjoying the favour of God and growing into his likeness. Stoic virtue and Christian righteousness could both be characterized as life in accordance with the Logos: for the Stoics, however, logos is that elemental stuff which humans share with God, not the Creator of all from nothing, who willingly forfeited his impassibility to wear a crown of thorns (Paedagogus 2.8.75.2).

Tertullian We often hear that Tertullian was a Stoic, and a perusal of his tract On the Soul seems to lend some colour to this assertion. The Stoics, he says, maintain paene nobiscum, almost with us, the identity of anima (soul) with pneuma or spirit, thereby verifying Tertullian’s own belief that Adam received his soul from the flatus (breath) which God infused into his nostrils at Genesis 2.7 (On the Soul 5.2). Testimony is elicited from both Plato and the Stoics that the body inhales the soul at birth and exhales it at death, although the Stoics are later said to be distinguished 225

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from the Platonists by their doctrine that the soul has its source in rigor aeris, a hardening of air (On the Soul 25.2). Tertullian assumes it to be the common teaching of Stoics that on its egress from the body, the soul ascends to the upper regions (54.1; 55.4), perhaps to dwell there immortally, as Cicero had intimated in his Dream of Scipio. Zeno, Cleanthes and Chrysippus are separately adduced to prove the most infamous of Tertullian’s heterodoxies, that the origin of the soul from air, its entry into the body and its return to the elements all afford logical proof of its being a body that occupies space. Chrysippus is said to have made it a law (in the teeth of Plato, if not of Aristotle) that no meaning can be attached to the soul’s departure from the body if it is not corporeal (On the Soul 5.5–6). He concurs with the Stoics in ascribing prophetic dreams to the mercy of God (46.11), and seems to endorse their definition of sleep as a relaxation of bodily vigour that does not reduce the vivacity of the soul (On the Soul 43.5). It is possible nonetheless that the term “corporeal” does not signify to Tertullian exactly what it signifies to his philosophical allies, for it seems not to be his own doctrine that the body which we call soul is derived from matter (On the Soul 11.2). He also credits all the principal teachers of the school with a division of the soul into parts, admitting no distinction between Posidonius and the others except that he posits only two divisions where Zeno posits three, Chrysippus eight, and others 12 (14.2). Modern scholars would quickly remind him that Zeno and Chrysippus spoke of faculties rather than parts, and even then only insofar as each is a determination of the single hegemonic faculty which plays the role of Logos to the soul’s matter. Again, when he asserts that the Stoics “tax not every sense with lying and not always” (17.4), he forgets that they regarded judgment, not perception, as the seat of error (Watson 1966: 34–37; SVF 2.74). Even in this lucubration on a subject which admits of free inquiry, Tertullian is a pupil of the scriptures, not the Stoa; when he writes Sicut et Seneca saepe noster (On the Soul 20.1), he means not “as our Seneca often says”(Baker 1977: 380), but “as Seneca says, who is often on our side”. And when Jerome later commends this philosopher as Seneca noster, the reason is not that Jerome is a Stoic but that he accepts the correspondence of Paul and Seneca as evidence of the latter’s Christianity, allowing his zeal for the winning of pagan friends to get the better of his critical acumen (Against Jovinian 1.49; Faider 1921: 89–96). At Against Hermogenes 1.3, he imputes to the Stoics the false teaching of his adversary, that matter is coeval with and hence independent of God; and yet, he scoffs at 44.1, Hermogenes cannot keep faith with his own instructors, since he imagines a creator who is superior to matter, whereas the god of the Stoics is ubiquitously present in the world like honey in the cells of a hive. He seems to come late upon the Stoic theory of divine immanence, for in his Apology (47.7) he contrasts their belief in a god who moves the world from without as the potter shapes his clay with the Platonic god who acts from within as a helmsman steers his ship. In the preceding sentence, he notes that Stoics also differ from Platonists in holding the deity to be incorporeal, but since his intention is merely to illustrate the diversity of Greek opinions as proof of the fallibility of philosophers, he expresses no approbation or disapprobation of either tenet. In his Indictment of Heresies, where every divagation in Christian thought is traced to some error in philosophy, the idle god of Marcion, who permits the creation of a sick world and redeems it at his leisure, is said to be a Stoic invention (7.3), and Marcion is subsequently alleged to have followed this sect as Valentinus followed Plato (30.1). Tertullian is consistently opposed to the theology of the Stoics, whatever he takes to be the content of that theology – a fact that should give us pause before we quote his challenge to Praxeas – who does not know that God is a body? – as a token of his allegiance to that school. No one who was so conscious of the plurality of philosophies could have phrased this as a rhetorical question unless he was giving to corpus the colloquial sense, attested by Augustine (Letter 166), which denotes a real as opposed to a virtual entity, or to quote his own synonym in his assault on Praxeas, a res. 226

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Readers of this treatise have discerned a Stoic theory of mixture in Tertullian’s account of the incarnation as an interpenetration of flesh and spirit, in which neither substance lost its peculiar qualities (Against Praxeas 27; Yarnold 1989; SVF 2.473). There is indeed no doubt that he would have characterised the Word and the flesh which the word assumed as two distinct corpora, and that among the Greeks a union of two corporeals without alteration of either would have been conceivable only to the Stoics. It is equally true that when he states that the body of God is spirit, the introduction of the word “body” gives a Stoic tone to his iteration of John 4.24. On the other hand, there is his hint that the corporeal and the material are coextensive for him as they were for the Stoics. Nor need we seek a Stoic pedigree for his argument that the existence of a father implies the existence of a son (Against Praxeas 10.1–4; Osborn 2003: 125–127): examples in logic are chosen for their self-evidence, and Aristotle had already illustrated the reciprocity of relations by observing that the slave is as necessarily “of ” the master as the master is “of ” the slave. Tertullian found serviceable arguments in the Stoics for his reasoning on disputed questions of psychology, and a serviceable nomenclature for the Trinitarian dogma which he held to be at once biblical and catholic; even in the former case, however, his determination not to be less than biblical and catholic sets limits to his speculative freedom, and even to his desire to ascertain precisely what the Stoics believed.

Origen While Origen is a fertile source for the Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta, he resembles the majority of our ancient informants in quoting them only to quibble. Perhaps no criticism is intended when, in a catalogue of dissonant opinions on psychology, he observes that the Stoics reject the tripartite division of the soul (Against Celsus 5.47). On the other hand, their teaching that the substance of the deity is pneuma, or rarefied spirit, is declared to be as impious as the Epicurean reduction of the gods to bundles of matter (4.14). In words that prefigure the condemnation of Arius at the Council of Nicaea, he protests that a material god must be mutable and changeable (1.21); worse still, since the Stoics posit an infinite succession of worlds, we must assume that the divine pneuma comes into being and passes away with each new cycle of generation, and that as each world succumbs to a final holocaust its god will also perish (6.71; 5.23). At Against Celsus 5.7, we read that the Stoic God is the world, at 6.48 that he is no happier than we, and at 7.37 that the Stoics banish all noetic entities from the universe. Origen also accuses them of teaching that each new world will be a facsimile of the last: the absurd corollary, drawn out with great labour on two occasions, is that each of us, even Socrates, will come into being an infinite number of times (4.45, 4.68, 5.20). Thus he differentiates the Stoic cosmogony from his own conjecture, loosely grounded on one biblical text, that God has created worlds before the present one (First Principles 3.5.3, citing Ecclesiastes 1.10), but without ordaining that each will have an identical history. He is on surer, or at least more common, ground when he contends that the world-consuming fire predicted in the Christian scriptures is not the Stoic ekpurôsis because the Creator will survive it and is able to confer everlasting perfection upon the denizens of a new world (8.72). Half a dozen references to Chrysippus, the great logician of the school, appear in the index to Koetschau’s edition of Against Celsus. In one, he is simply a representative Stoic (8.49), and in another a truant pupil of Cleanthes (2.12). Elsewhere, however, Origen transcribes or paraphrases texts from named works by Chrysippus on the unfathomability of the higher mysteries (1.40), the cure of the passions according to the philosophy of the patient (1.64), the admission of courtesans into Greek cities (4.63) and the palliative reading of an icon which depicted an “unspeakable” act of sexual intercourse between Zeus and Hera (4.48). In the 227

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light of these citations – which evidently were not schoolroom commonplaces, as most do not appear elsewhere – his tacit appropriations of Stoic arguments may also be taken as evidence of his acquaintance with that tradition. Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, had used the phrase katalêptikê phantasia of perceptions which are not open to doubt; Christians possess this, according to Origen, in the apostolic testimony to the acts and words of Christ (8.53). It may not be fanciful, therefore, to surmise that when he appeals elsewhere from the mere text of the gospels to the pragmata, or realities, that it subtends he is availing himself of the technical sense that this term had acquired among the Stoics (Rist 1981: 66–67, commenting on Roberts 1970). While Rist doubts this conjecture, he is willing to grant that Origen is parading his dexterity in the deployment of Stoic logic when he explains to Celsus that, even it is necessarily true that what is foreknown will occur, it does not follow that the foreknowledge itself necessitates the occurrence (Against Celsus 2.20; Rist 1981: 70–73). Origen openly accuses Celsus of mishandling another Stoic argument in the hope of luring pious readers of scripture into an impasse (7.15). Suppose, says the pagan casuist, that one of the prophets were to foretell that God will become a slave: the prophecy will be true because all such utterances are infallible, yet false because the scenario is impossible. Celsus offers this as an ineluctable example of false prophecy: Origen retorts that it is no prophecy at all, as there is no conceivable state of affairs to which it could refer. He contrasts the Stoic syllogism that Celsus is mimicking: “If you know that you are dead, you know it; however, if you know that you are dead, you cannot know it because you are dead. Therefore you cannot know that you are dead.” The purpose of this useful exercise is to show that the proposition “X knows that x is dead” can never be true. If Celsus were a more adroit logician, he would perceive that the conclusion to which his sophistry points is not that the biblical prophets can err but that God cannot be a slave. Whatever we make of his reasoning, Origen has rendered at least one service to the history of philosophy, since, as Rist notes (1981: 75), this is the only Stoic syllogism of its kind that has been preserved. Direct quotations from the Greek philosophers are rare in Origen outside the work Against Celsus. From his pupil and encomiast Gregory Thaumaturgus, we learn that he taught philosophy as a preparation for scriptural exegesis, restricting his syllabus to those who acknowledged an active deity. If he therefore commended the Stoics as an object of study, it is all the more probable that they are his unnamed adversaries when he argues for the incorporeality of God, and indeed of all true ousia or being. When he lays this down as the first substantive thesis of his First Principles, he imagines that the verses quoted against him will be John 4.24, “God is spirit” and Deuteronomy 4.24, “the Lord your God is a consuming fire” (First Principles 1.1.1). While these objections could have been raised without the assistance of any Greek sect, the inference from “God is spirit” to “God is a body” might have come more readily to one who was acquainted with Stoic physics. The interlocutor cannot be Tertullian, who refrains from equating either the corporeal with the material or fire with spirit, whether “fire” and “spirit” be names of elements or metaphors of divine power. In his treatise, when Origen has to explain the locution artos epiousios, he takes it to mean bread that has true ousia or substance (On Prayer 27). In this case, the scriptures afford us not a definition of substance but the evidence for a choice between the philosophers who assign the highest degree of reality to the incorporeal and those who maintain that nothing exists without matter. It is widely assumed that the former class (to whom Origen awards the palm) are the Platonists, while the latter are the Stoics. While this is likely enough, we must remember that a similar conflict between the gods and the giants is already a parable in Plato’s Sophist. The thesis of Cadiou (1932) that he consulted the definitions of ousia in the lexicon of the Stoic Herophilus rests on premises and testimonies which, as Barnes observes (2015: 296–297), are open to contestation (see further Markschies 2007: 176–183). 228

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Porphyry says of Origen, with a show of regret, that he turned away from the Platonists to the writings of barbarians which he allegorised in the manner of the Stoics (Eusebius, Church History 6.19.8). Few scholars have endorsed his judgment, and Origen himself appeals more often to the precedent of Numenius, whom Porphyry also cites as the chief precursor to his own experiment in the interpretation of Homer. Origen’s search for the mysteries of the New Testament in the Old prefigures Porphyry’s use of the mystery cults as glosses to poetry far more closely than it resembles the Stoic exegesis of Homeric motifs as symbols of natural forces or human passions; if he sometimes avails himself an etymology, he has not only Cornutus for his model but Philo (Bostock 1987), and behind Philo the Cratylus of Plato. Like Philo, he applies allegory to a text which he believes to be free of the blemishes that disfigured its pagan rivals: allegory is not for either of them a remedial measure, but a sustained decipherment of the moral and spiritual lessons that the Spirit imparts to us under the veil of history or provisional legislation. Because they believe (as the Stoics did not) in an incorporeal soul, they can draw an antithesis between the inner and the outer man which in Origen’s hands becomes to the extraction of a higher, though homonymous, sense from an otherwise trivial or recalcitrant passage (Edwards 2019: 185). His usual rule of interpreting scripture from scripture (not mirrored by any Porphyrian or Stoic principle of interpreting Homer from Homer) allows him to cite the parables of Christ as accreditations of the allegorical method. Clement had done this also, but Origen goes beyond Clement, and into regions where neither Philo nor the Platonists could have followed him, when he takes the incarnation of the Word in all three elements of humanity as his warrant for seeking a bodily, a psychic and a pneumatic sense in scripture, where this sojourn in the flesh has been reconverted into words (First Principles 4.2.4–9; Homilies on Leviticus 1.1 and 5.2; Edwards 2002: 133–135). Where Porphyry opined that the cave of Homer might be historical, the Stoics displayed no interest in such questions: for Origen, by contrast, it is only because the New Testament is history that the Old Testament can be read as allegory. Origen is a fierce opponent of determinism, the doctrine that every other school associates with the Stoics. At the same time, as I point out in my chapter on Aristotle, his occasional use of the Peripatetic vocabulary does not weaken his conviction that the future is definitely foreknown to God, and it might thus be said that he marries Aristotelian presuppositions to a conclusion that is logically tenable only on Stoic principles. The key to his thought on the freedom of the will, as on the necessity of embodiment, is his unwillingness to surrender revelation to philosophy even when he recruits philosophy in defence of revelation. It was hard for any Christian to add to the positions that the Greeks had already reached in moral philosophy or in their speculations on the bounds of liberty and knowledge, for all such theories must be brought to the test of experience, and will founder if they set goals which are universally agreed to be unattainable or impose demands to which no one has the capacity to respond. Ethical philosophies are particularly convergent, since all of them take as an end some state – be it happiness, pleasure, agreement with nature or likeness to God – which is already agreed to be good in popular discourse. It is in the field of metaphysics that everyone is his own master, feeling no obligation to flatter the opinions of the multitude; in this field, Origen joins the majority of his fellow Christians in rejecting determinism and the materialistic levelling of the Creator with his creatures. It is hardly necessary to say that in these respects Tertullian too is emphatically a Christian and no Stoic.

Postscript: A Stoic Augustine? Christian ascetics after Constantine embraced the pursuit of apatheia with zeal, establishing communities of which some were devoted to study, some to manual labour and some to 229

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contemplation, but all at a distance from the political world that a Roman Stoic would have deemed unmanly. As I have said in the chapter on Evagrius, the goal of monastic passionlessness was not only to harden the soul against temptation, but to make it a vessel of selfless love for others. The Stoics of this era existed chiefly as literary foils to the Platonic cultivation of metriopatheia, or moderate passion, the goal of which was to redirect the chastened affections from the sensory to the noetic realm (Dillon 1983). Augustine, a wary observer of monasticism, learned all that he knew of the Stoics from Latin authors: reading in Aulus Gellius of a Stoic who explained his pallor during a shipwreck as an uncontrollable response to danger, he concludes from this exhibition of propatheia that even the wise man will experience passion, whatever he chooses to call it (City of God 9.4; Byers 2003). Cicero (Tusculan Disputations 4.6.11–14) is his informant in the City of God, where he notes that the Stoics exhort their disciples to substitute volition, joy and prudence for desire, exhilaration and fear, but acknowledge no virtuous counterpart to grief because they do not feel contrition for their sins (City of God 14.8.1; cf. Buch-Hansen 2010: 106–111). Self-maceration, absolute sexual continence, renunciation of property and the surrender of the will are not Stoic virtues; even when the vocabulary of the sect is woven into Christian precepts and exhortations, we must remember that monks differed as much from the Stoics in asserting the fallenness of the body as they differed from the Platonists in according to it a share in eternal life. The absence of any doctrine of the fall in the Stoics must also qualify any parallel that can be drawn between the Stoic and the Augustinian understanding of volition (Frede 2011). It is true that the Stoics and Augustine are at one in defining freedom as the habit of acting only in accordance with one’s nature, unconstrained by passion or any external force. It is also true that his liberum arbitrium is the lexical equivalent of prohaeresis in Epictetus; yet the “choice as to what we will”, which Frede ascribes both to Epictetus and to Augustine at On Free Will 1.86 (2011: 166–168), is precisely what Augustine denies at On Free Will 3.17.48–49 on the grounds that willing to will would entail an infinite regress. Stoics know nothing of any primordial error which has vitiated the power of reason to discern the good and the power of will to choose good even when it is discerned. They could not have entertained – indeed they would not have understood – Augustine’s doctrine that without the grace of God we must choose between one sin and another, because no action which is not informed by love can be other than sinful. Believing that the ideal of the wise man has never been realised, they would think it chimerical to imagine a heaven in which the will is so fused with the Spirit of God that sin becomes inconceivable. When love takes the place of will in Augustine’s treatise On the Trinity, we no longer think of Stoic prohairesis but of the Aristotelian eros which, unless it is matched by a countervailing force, will irresistibly restore an element to its natural place.

Bibliography: Primary Sources For Aratus, Cicero, Diogenes Laertius, Epictetus, Lucan, Marcus Aurelius, Philo, Plutarch and Seneca, see Loeb Classical Library editions (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, frequently reprinted). For Athenagoras, Clement, Hippolytus, Justin, Origen and Tertullian, see relevant chapters in this volume. Berry, P. (1999), Correspondence Between Paul and Seneca, Lewiston: Edwin Mellen. Cornutus (2018), Compendium de Graecae Theologiae Traditionibus, J. Torres (ed.), Leipzig: Teubner. Frede, M. (2011), A Free Will: Origins of the Notion in Ancient Thought, Berkeley: University of C ­ alifornia Press. 230

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Heraclitus (2005), Homeric Problems, D. Russell and D. Konstan (eds.), Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature. Hense, O. (1905), Musonius Rufus, Leipzig: Teubner. Posidonius (1972), The Fragments, I. Kidd and L. Edelstein (eds.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Tertullian (1947), De Anima, J. H. Waszink (ed.), Amsterdam: Muellenhoff. Von Arnim, H. (1964), SVF: Stoicorum Verterum Fragmenta, Stuttgart: Teubner; New York: Irvingston, 1986.

Bibliography: Scholarly Literature Arnold, E. V. (1911), Roman Stoicism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Baker, J. A. (1977), The Origins of Latin Christianity, J. Daniélou (trans.), London: Longman, Darton and Todd. Barnes, J. (2015), Mantissa, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Bobzien, S. (1998), Determinism and Freedom in Stoic Philosophy, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Bobzien, S. (1999), “Chrysippus’ Theory of Causes”, in K. Ierodiakonou (ed.), Topics in Stoic Philosophy, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 196–242. Bostock, G. (1987), “The Sources of Origen’s Doctrine of Pre-Existence”, in L. Lies (ed.), Origeniana Quarta, Innsbruck: Tyrolia, 259–264. Briggman, A. (2019), God and Christ in Irenaeus, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Buch-Hansen, G. (2010), “The Emotional Jesus: Anti-Stoicism in the Fourth Gospel?”, in Rasimus, T. Engberg-Pedersen and Dunderberg (eds.), Stoicism in Early Christianity, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 93–114. Byers, S. C. (2003), “Augustine and the Stoic Cognitive Cause of Stoic ‘Preliminary Passions’ (propatheiai)”, Journal of the History of Philosophy 41, 433–448. Cadiou, R. (1932), “Dictionnaires antiques dans l’oeuvre d’Origène”, Revue des Études grecques 45, 271–285. Cooper, J. M. (1999), “Posidonius on Emotions”, in J. M. Cooper (ed.), Reason and Emotion, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 449–484. Dillon, J. M. (1983), “Metriopatheia and Apatheia: Some Reflections on a Controversy in Later Greek Ethics”, in J. Anton and A. Preuss (eds.), Essays in Ancient Greek Philosophy, 2 vols., New York: SUNY Press, 508–517. Edwards, M. J. (1992), “Quoting Aratus: Acts 7.28”, Zeitschrift für Neutestamentliche Wissenchaft 83, 266–269. Edwards, M. J. (1994), “Euphrates, Stoic and Christian Heretic”, Athenaeum 82, 196–201. Edwards, M. J. (2002), Origen Against Plato, Farnham: Ashgate. Edwards, M. J. (2019), “Origen in Paradise: A Response to Peter Martens”, Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum 23, 162–185. Engberg-Pedersen, T. (2000), Paul and the Stoics, Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press. Faider, P. (1921), Études sur Sénèque, Ghent: Van Rysselburghe and Rombaut. Graese, A. (1972), Plotinus and the Stoics: A Preliminary Study, Leiden: Brill. Gibbons, K. (2017), The Moral Psychology of Clement of Alexandria: Mosaic Philosophy, London: Routledge. Grillmeier, A. (1975), Christ in Christian Tradition, London: Mowbray. Heine, R. (1998), “The Christology of Callistus”, Journal of Theological Studies 49, 56–91. Holte, R. (1958), “Logos Spermatikos, Christianity and Ancient Philosophy According to Justin’s Apologies”, Studia Theologica 12, 10–168. Inwood, B. (2017), “The Legacy of Musonius Rufus”, in T. Engberg-Pedersen (ed.), From Stoicism to Platonism: The Development of Philosophy 100 BCE – 100 CE, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 254–276. Laffranque, M. (1964), Poseidonios d’Apamée, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Long, A. A. (1975), “Heraclitus and Stoicism”, Filosofia 5, 133–156. Long, A. A. (2002), Epictetus: A Stoic and Socratic Guide to Life, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Markschies, C. (2007), Origenes und sein Erbe, Berlin: De Gruyter. 231

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Most, G. W. (1989), “Cornutus and Stoic Allegoresis”, in W. Haase and H. Temporini (eds.), Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt, II.36.3, Berlin: De Gruyter. Obbink, D. (1999), “The Stoic Sage in the Cosmic City”, in K. Ieradiakonou (ed.), Topics in Stoic Philosophy, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 178–195. Osborn, E. F. (2003), Tertullian: First Theologian of the West, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Osborn, E. F. (2005), Clement of Alexandria, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Parker, C. P. (1901), “Musonius in Clement”, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 12, 191–200. Ramelli, I. (2013), “The Pseudepigraphical Correspondence Between Seneca and Paul: A Reassessment”, in S. E. Porter and G. P. Fewster (eds.), Paul and Pseudepigraphy, Leiden: Brill, 319–336. Rist, J. M. (1981), “Stoic Logic in the Contra Celsum”, in H. J. Blumenthal and R. A. Markus (eds.), Neoplatonism and Early Christian Thought, London: Variorum, 64–78. Rist, J. M. (1982), “Are You a Stoic? The Case of Marcus Aurelius”, in B. F. Meyer and E. P. Sanders (eds.), Jewish and Christian Self-Definition, 3 vols., London: SCM Press, 23–45. Roberts, L. (1970), “Origen and Stoic Logic”, Transactions of the American Philological Association 101, 433–444. Rutherford, R. B. (1989), The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Stanton, G. R. (1968), “The Cosmopolitan Ideas of Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius”, Phronesis 13, 183–195. Thorsteinsson, R. M. (2012), “Justin and Stoic Cosmo-Theology”, Journal of Theological Studies 63, 533–571. Thorsteinsson, R. M. (2018), Jesus as Philosopher: The Moral Sage in the Synoptic Gospels, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Todd, R. B. (1976), Alexander of Aphrodisias on Stoic Physics, Leiden: Brill. Waerdt, P. A. Van der (1994), “Zeno’s Republic and the Origins of Natural Law”, in P. A. Vander Waerdt (ed.), The Socratic Movement, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 272–308. Watson, G. (1966), The Stoic Theory of Knowledge, Belfast: The Queen’s University. Yarnold, E. J. (1989), “Videmus duplicem statum: The Visibility of the Two Natures of Christ in Tertullian’s Adversus Praxean”, Studia Patristica 19, 286, 290. Zuntz, G. (1958), “Zum Kleanthes-Hymnus”, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 65, 297–308.

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18 Epicureans Mark Edwards

Epicurus and his school Born in Samos in 341 BC, Epicurus settled in Athens in 307 and founded there the community of philosophers known as the Garden. Its principal tenet, foreshadowed in the teachings of Democritus of Abdera, was that nothing exists but atoms and the void. Hence there are no Platonic ideas or Aristotelian essences; the soul, no less than the world that it beholds, is a transient congeries of atoms, into which tenuous emanations flow from material bodies through pores in our own to stimulate sensory impressions. Since there is no authority to correct them, these impressions are to be trusted when they report that the earth is flat or that the sun is no more than a few feet in diameter (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers 10.91). The purpose of such inquiries is not to gratify scientific curiosity but to rid the soul of the fears and superstitions that accrue from false beliefs. The most pernicious of these are the teachings of religion, which ascribes every freak of nature to invisible agents, pretending that those who offend them in the present world will suffer enduring torment in the next. In fact, the true prerequisite of virtue is to admit that, since nothing exists except the objects of our senses, the end of life should be to enjoy the greatest possible excess of bodily pleasure over bodily pain (Cicero, On Ends, book 1). Vicious hedonism will not secure this, as the pleasures which it yields are outweighed by the pains that it entails: the wise will aim for a state of ataraxia, or imperturbability, in which the satisfaction of avoiding pain is seasoned by the companionship of others who are intent upon the same goal. Thus Epicurus, like the Stoics, exhorts us to follow nature; with Plato, he holds that nature’s guide to virtue is the calculus of pleasures; for him, as for Aristotle, the ideal is the life which most resembles that of the gods. These too are composed of atoms, with the peculiar (and unexplained) attribute of immortality. Far from acting as efficient, final or material causes to the physical world they take no part or interest in it, and the wise will honour them, not with useless prayers but by imitating their steadfast practice of ataraxia (Festugière 1955). The cosmos, while it exhibits a lawlike harmony so long as it exists, is the result of a fortuitous concourse of atoms. Since the habitual motion of these particles is a vertical fall through the void, Epicurus finds it necessary to posit a “swerve”, or aleatory deflection, the origin and operation of which remain obscure (Englert 1987). The charge that Epicurus substitutes automatism for divine 233

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providence is true only if this word has the sense of chance rather than mechanical necessity. Both are equally antipathetic to reason, the free exercise of which in human agents seems to be guaranteed by the same swerve that has introduced vicissitude into the cosmos. Few would agree that the liberty which we think fundamental to reasoning can be reduced to a kinetic aberration; some at least are grateful to Epicurus for turning the tables on the fatalist with the quip that if he is right he cannot know it, as his argument puts his own mental processes at the mercy of fate (Gnomologicum Vaticanum 40; Arrighetti 1960: 147). According to Epicurus, the reading of poetry is a pleasure to be shunned, since it can only breed. Railing against mythology, its cultic manifestations and its philosophic defenders was the stock-in-trade of Epicurean polemicists; Colotes, a disciple of the master himself, charged Plato with hypocrisy because he used myth as a vehicle while denouncing the lies of poets (Kechagia 2011: 69). On the other hand, Philodemus (c. 110–30 BC) was a noted epigrammatist and the author of a treatise on the utility of poetry, fragments of which were reserved in Herculaneum by the eruption of Vesuvius. His literary exertions are eclipsed by his contemporary Lucretius in 7000 lines of Latin hexameter verse On the Nature of Things. He celebrates Epicurus as the Greek who climbed beyond the flaming ramparts of the world, having slain the monster of religion, to contemplate the true abode of the gods (On the Nature of Things 1.62–79). He follows both Colotes and Epicurus in assuming that the imagined torments of hell afflict his countrymen more than economic or physical privations (1.102–135); nevertheless, he not only adopts a medium which was abhorrent to Epicurus but commences with an apostrophe to the goddess Venus, soliciting a cure for Rome’s current maladies in a style that belies his own and his master’s teaching on the remoteness of the gods (1.1–49). The Epicureans continued to recommend their creed primarily as an antidote to fear of death. This is the premiss from which Diogenes of Oenoanda begins and to which he returns at the end of the inscription which he commissioned in the second century of the Christian era (Clay 2007). The enemies of virtue and repose, in his view, are the Sceptics, who eschew natural philosophy, the Peripatetics who hold a false theory of nature and the Platonists who threaten us with punishment in a fictitious afterlife. After Diogenes of Oenoanda, the one known champion of Epicurus in antiquity is Diogenes Laertius, the tenth book of whose Lives of the Philosophers reproduces three of his letters and refutes his adversaries with a zeal that is not displayed on behalf of any other thinker in this compilation. As he undertakes no biography of any of his successors, we are left to suppose (as many of his detractors said) that the school was simply a monument to the man.

Epicurus in the apologists Epicureans were stigmatised in the Roman world as idle self-seekers who took no part in ­politics, although Cassius, the assassin of Julius Caesar, belonged to the sect. They were sometimes described as atheists (Sedley 2013: 145–147), a term which in their case signifies neither complete disbelief in gods nor refusal to worship them but denial of their concern with our affairs. Where there is no divine providence, there are no miracles, and Epicureans, according to their admirer Lucian (Alexander 25), made common cause against the pseudo-prophet Alexander with the Christians, who were atheists in the sense that they abstained from civic cults. Alexander denounced both sects, whereas Lucian, when he gives his own view of the Christians, derides their infamous willingness to die as a parody of Cynic courage (Peregrinus 13–14; Runaways 1). Equally contemptuous of martyrdom, Galen says of Christians what everyone said of the Epicureans, that they had no reason for any of their beliefs but the ipse dixit of their founder. The polemicist Celsus presses against them the Epicurean argument that anyone who is 234

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weary of the world knows how to leave it;1 Plotinus hurls the same quip at the Gnostics whom his disciple Porphyry characterises as Christian heretics.2 He can also liken them expressly to the Epicureans, since, unlike their catholic adversaries, they did not ascribe the ordering of the cosmos to a benign intelligence. To the accusation of atheism, Christian apologists rejoined that it is all one thing to worship false gods and to worship none. At Second Apology 7.6, Justin couples Epicurus with Sardanapalus as a notorious libertine, spared by the same society which put Socrates to death. At 12 in the same text, he asserts that pagans adduce the teaching of Epicurus and the fables of poets to palliate their own crimes, as though Epicurus had not been the fiercest critic of the poets and as odious as Plato himself to their defenders. At 15.3 he libels the entire sect by association with the scurrilous poets Sotades, Philaenius and (according to some editors) Archestratus, ignoring both their avowed opposition to poetry and their admonitions that surfeit is the enemy of pleasure. We should not deduce that Justin is either ignorant or unusually malicious: he is seeking a place for Christianity in the republic of letters, which awarded its choicest laurels not to sophist but to orators who, like Cicero and Lucian, made full use of the licence which was permitted to forensic combatants. For once we find his pupil Tatian less fantastical, first when he names Epicurus as one of the many Greeks who rail at us if we agree with Plato, and then when he contrasts his own fearless proclamation of truth with the supine custom of “carrying the torch” for gods in whom one has ceased to believe. Theophilus of Antioch is fair to Epicurus but not to the Stoic Chrysippus when he makes them his two examples of philosophers who either believe in no gods or deny them any providential interest in the world. Tertullian mocks the “otiose and inactive” God of Epicurus in his Apology (47.6) and in the related treatise Against the Nations (2.2.8). It is more humane to think, with Plato, that the world has an author, than to take the dour position (duritia) of Epicurus that it has none (2.3.4). Nevertheless, his school can be cited (with others) as a reputable precedent for taking one’s philosophy from a named founder, as Christians take their name from Christ (Apology 3.6); the doctrine that the soul is composed of atoms is only one of many opinions to be rejected in the treatise On the Soul. Of course, Tertullian cannot applaud the teaching that the end of life is pleasure (Apology 38.5); what Epicurus praises as equanimity is merely a stupor or insensibility (On the Soul 3.2). When Tertullian says the same of his god, it is to discredit the “good god” of Marcion, who after an unaccountable delay intervenes to save us from the creator. Marcion is the worse of the two, for if it was culpable to be idle, it is equally so to break out of his idleness to meddle in the handiwork of another (Against Marcion 1.25.3–5). This is the first example of the use of Epicurus as a stick for the chastisement of a heretic. Hippolytus of Rome exploits the original meaning of the noun hairesis (“choice” of doctrine, in philosophy or in medicine) to corroborate his own thesis that every heresy, in the ecclesiastical sense, is the offspring of some pagan school. Epicurus, he says correctly, admits no principles but atoms and the void (Refutation 1.22.1), and therefore opines that even the deity is a product of atoms (1.22.3). This god resides in a place set apart from the world, in the eternal fruition of happiness and serenity, taking no thought for the “automatic” dispersion and combination of particles in another realm. Thus he is the model for the wise man, who will direct his thoughts and actions at all times to pleasure, whether we take this to mean, with some, no more than sensuous delight or, with others, the cultivation of imperturbability through virtue (1.22.4). As nothing can survive the dissolution of its atoms, there is no afterlife for the soul, which is composed of nothing but blood (1.22.6); hence there remains no subject for reward and punishment in the next life, even if there were a judge to administer them. This is by no means an ill-informed report: it refrains from caricaturing the moral teaching of Epicurus and acknowledges that (notwithstanding critics who urged that whatever consists of atoms must 235

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be dissoluble3) he regarded immortality as an attribute of the divine. The tenet that the soul consists of blood is attested not only in Lucretius but in a saying ascribed to Epicurus himself. The substitution of God for the many gods of the Greek philosopher, on the other hand, is tendentious, but Hippolytus does not in fact go on to accuse him of being the progenitor of a Christian heresy. For Epiphanius of Salamis, the noun hairesis has but one sense, whether it denotes a Greek philosophy or a Christian aberration. When he speaks of Epicureans in the plural, he summarily brings against them the usual charges of atheism, automatism and (in his words) making pleasure the “end of happiness” (Panarion, proem 6). In a catalogue of founders and successors, he appears to be unaware of any successor to Epicurus himself (2.1.44). We might compare the absence of any epigonal biography in Diogenes Laertius, but Diogenes would not have made the error of imputing to him the doctrine which he abhorred above all others – that there is no such thing as free will and that consequently none of us is entitled to praise or reward (2.1.44). Perhaps he deduced this from his own observation that the two varieties of automatism – the doctrine of fate in the Stoics and the Epicurean tenet that worlds arise by chance – had led both schools to posit an infinite series of worlds (1.1.8). For this belief, some warrant might have been found in the preaching of Solomon, but we are wholly at a loss to explain the continuation, in which the Athenian is credited with the thesis that the cosmos commenced as an egg, around which nature was wrapped as a band, until it tightened and broke the shell to permit the light elements to rise and the heavy to sink. This might have been a vestige of some lost account of the Orphics, were it not that such a chapter would have raised the number of heresies in the Panarion from the 80 prescribed by scripture to 81.

The Alexandrian tradition Justin’s maxim that everything which was well said by philosophers about God was derived from God’s own prophets of God was also the habitual, if not unvarying, position of Clement of Alexandria. Epicurus is cited as an example of this truth when it is stated universally; the verse that gave rise to his fatalism, poorly understood, was Solomon’s exclamation, “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity” (Stromateis 5.13.90.2). Hence it was that Paul, having encountered his disciples on the hill of Ares, characterised all thought that defies the scriptures as “vain philosophy” (Stromateis 1.10.50.6). Yet no perversion of scripture can account for his glorification of pleasure as the sole end of life (2.20.119.3). In part it is an inheritance from the Cyrenaics who learned nothing else from Plato but the hedonistic calculus (2.21.127.2): the equation of pleasure with the mere absence of pain or misfortune, however, is his own vagary, as his blasphemous adage that when free from pain we are equal to the gods (2.21.127.1). This is his vaunted autarkeia, or self-sufficiency (6.2.24.8); no wonder then that his only argument against taking a bribe is that even the wise man cannot be sure that he will escape detection (4.22.143.6). As the founder of atheism (1.1.1.2), he is even more of an enemy to truth than Democritus, from whom he received his theory of atoms (6.2.27.4). At the same time, he can be co-opted, when occasion serves, as a witness to the necessity of pistis as a presupposition of knowledge, although he meant by this not faith in authority, but trust in sense perception (2.4.16.3). Clement also notes with pleasure that the sect cherished both a public and a private tradition of the master’s sayings, just as the gnostic, or enlightened, Christian will find truths in scripture that cannot be discerned by simple faith (5.9.58.1). In his panegyric on Origen, Gregory Thaumaturgus records that, while he required his pupils to study the classical philosophies before they approached the scriptures, his syllabus did not include the impious teachings which denied the providence of God. This charge could be 236

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laid against almost any tradition, for even Platonists did not admit special providence, and the Stoics are always denounced as fatalists in Christian literature. On the other hand, even Peripatetics maintained that above the moon all bodies are subject to uniform principles of motion, and the Epicureans stood alone in reducing all things to the play of chance. Origen therefore takes advantage of a general prejudice when he characterises Celsus, the pagan detractor of Christianity, as an Epicurean, in spite of the inclinations to Platonism which are so evident to modern commentators. He appeals to external sources (1.8, 1.10), no doubt taking his interlocutor for the addressee of Lucian’s Alexander, where, as we have noted, Epicureans and Christians are reviled by the pagan antihero as partners in atheism.4 He concedes, in fact, that Celsus never admits his affiliation (5.3), but ascribes his reticence to fear of his fellow pagans. It is a common trope of his to construe his adversary’s sallies against Christianity as expressions of universal scepticism. Thus, when Celsus observes that cults of resurrected men are found among the Getae, the Cilicians and many other nations, his object is only to show that Christianity has no claim to a special revelation; Origen, however, retorts that Celsus has ostracised himself from his fellow Greeks by this Epicurean show of incredulity (3.35). He gloats that the mask has fallen again when Celsus denies that God can work a miracle (1.42) and asseverates that no god or child of a god has ever come down to share the human lot (5.3). Origen shows no acquaintance with the writings of Epicurus himself. The name occurs repeatedly in lists of pagan teachers who have espoused a private philosophy (1.24, 3.75), where it stands for anything it tends, like that of his sect, to connote mere hedonism and the denial of providence (1.21, 3.80, 5.61, 7.63). To consult the works or hold the tenets of Epicurus is simply to be an infidel of the same type, and we are given to understand that it is all one to be “of Celsus” and to be “of Epicurus” (1.10). Only an allusion to his disparagement of oracles suggests a more detailed knowledge of the teachings of Epicurus (7.3, 8.45). For the most part, however, his apologetic purposes do not require him to read a man whom no one of his own epoch names expressly as his master. There is equally little evidence that his pupil Dionysius of Alexandria had any firsthand acquaintance with the atomists whom he denounced in his celebrated treatise On Nature (Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel 14.23–27; Markschies 2007: 143–148). For all that, it was as possible in the church as in the schools for his words to survive the atrophy of his reputation. Just as his maxim “Live unknown” was transferred to Pythagoras in the third century,5 so his enduring riposte to determinism – namely, that if all things are fated, so is the argument that everything is fated – was baptised in Origen’s Commentary on Genesis with no acknowledgement of its parentage.6

The Latin world after Nicaea Epicurus, being no stylist, was read by few, and his followers in the Greek world achieved no political eminence; Lucretius and Philodemus, on the other hand, were accomplished men of letters under the patronage of sympathetic nobles, and they survived as literature after the philosophy had become defunct in the later Roman world. Poet as he was, Lucretius scoffs at the mythologies espoused by his fellow poets, yet is frequently betrayed into tropes and idioms that challenge the adequacy of his prescriptions for happiness and rational conduct: in the words of Henri Patin (1860), there is an “anti-Lucrece chez Lucrece”. For these reasons, he lends himself perfectly to the aims of Lactantius, whose threefold task, in an age of persecution, is to show that Christians have the intellectual culture that gives them a right to a hearing, to elicit a critique of Roman society from the writings of its own teachers, and to vindicate Christianity as the practical realisation of the ends that these same teachers have enjoined but could never attain. 237

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His first quotation is a verse deploring human sacrifice as the worst of the evils occasioned by religion (1.21.14), his second an animadversion on the stupidity of mortals (1.21.48), and his third a protestation that true piety does not consist in the donning of veils or in lachrymose self-abasement (2.3.10–11). He derides the poet for falling prey to his own superstition when he extols Epicurus as a god (3.14.2; 3.17.28), but detects a “whisper” of truth in his mythological representation of thunder and lightning as weapons in the hands of Jupiter for the chastisement of injustice (2.17.10). He finds that Lucretius cannot but admit the celestial origin of the soul, and he agrees that no pagan thinker has given us reason to suppose that God created the world for the sake of the human race. The apologist’s own threnody on old age is laced with echoes of the diatribe against fear of death (7.12.12–18), and he finds a subtle play on words to corroborate Cicero’s etymology of religion from the verb which means “to bind” (4.28.13). In his treatise On the Workmanship of God, Lucretius is represented only by invidious paraphrase, demonstrating the folly of the school which denies that the eyes were made for seeing, advances the ludicrous argument that if light reached the mind through the eyes we would see more through open sockets, and invents fantastic tales of the spawning of monsters in a past epoch of which history and scripture alike know nothing. All these errors are confidently traced to Epicurus, whose philosophy has proved, like all the rest, to be of more use in the confutation of falsehood than in the discovery of truth. Lucretius is in fact little quoted by Christian authors after Lactantius  – not even by Jerome, who in his treatise On Famous Men records that Lucretius died of a love potion administered by his wife. For most Latin authors, Epicurus too is only a byword for hedonism and impiety; the exception is Ambrose, who, setting up Epicurus once again as Paul’s chief antagonist, ascribes to him the doctrine that pleasure is evil only for its consequences, and that even a life of luxury may be irreproachable if it entails no fear of death or pain (Letter 22). This sober account lends credit to his claim to have discovered an innovation to the teaching of the sect in an otherwise obscure Philomarus, who adopts what he understands to be a Stoic tenet, that the taste for pleasure is planted in us by God (Ambrose, Letter 10.82). By contrast, the Greek theologians of his age make little reference to the great atheist, except to rebut the sophistries of Eunomius, who had urged, against Basil and Gregory of Nyssa, that the essence of God has been defined for us by God himself: if then we contend that his essence is inscrutable, we have fallen into the Epicurean blasphemy of denying his revelation to the world. This is one more instance of the purely eristic use by Christian writers of a man whom they loved to represent, in Hippolytus’ words, as the adversary of all. At the same time he was a representative Greek, whose atheism and hedonism were the extreme results of a universal indifference to the providential government of God in the present world and to his promise of an everlasting kingdom for the righteous in the next. We have seen that where it served an apologist’s strategy, he could be cited to prove the utility of faith or the legitimacy of following a master; since, however, the content of his thought was always assumed to be antipathetic to Christianity, he could be taxed with blasphemies that were chargeable only to his rivals, but was never an acknowledged ally, even when he furnished Origen with his subtlest argument for the freedom of the will.

Notes 1 Cf. Diogenes Laertius, Lives 10.126. 2 Plotinus, Enneads 2.9.9; Porphyry, Life of Plotinus 16. 3 Cf. Cicero, Nature of the Gods 3.30. 238

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4 Bergjan 2001 suggests that he had more substantive reasons for thinking Celsus an Epicurean, at least when writing the first half of his treatise. 5 See Plutarch, On the maxim “Live Unknown”; Philostratus, Life of Apollonius 8.28. 6 Genesis Commentary, p. 74 Metzler. Cf Epicurus, p. 167 Arrighetti (Gnomologicum Vaticanum 40).

Bibliography Bergjan, S.-P. (2001), “Celsus the Epicurean? The Interpretation of an Argument in Origen, Contra Celsum”, Harvard Theological Review 94, 179–204. Clay, D. (2007), “The Philosophical Inscription of Diogenes of Oenoanda”, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 94, 283–291. Englert, W. G. (1987), Epicurus on the Swerve and Free Action, Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press. Epicurus (1960), Opere, G. Arrighetti (ed.), Turin: Einaudi. Festugière, A. J. (1955), Epicurus and His Gods, C. Chilton (trans.), Oxford: Blackwell. Kechagia, E. (2011), Plutarch Against Colotes: A Lesson in History of Philosophy, New York: Oxford University Press. Lucretius (1910), De Rerum Natura, C. Bailey (ed. and trans.), Oxford: Clarendon Press. Markschies, C. (2007), Origenes und sein Erbe, Berlin: De Gruyter. Obbink, D. (ed.). (2005), Philodemus on Poetry: Poetic Theory and Practice in Lucretius, Philodemus and Horace, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Origen (2010), Die Kommentierung des Buches Genesis, K. Metzler (ed.), Berlin: De Gruyter. Patin, H. (1860), De Lucrèce et du poème De la nature, Paris: Bourdier. Philodemus (2000), On Poems, R. Janko (ed.), book 1, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Philodemus (2011), On Poems, R. Janko (ed.), books 2–3, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Sedley, D. (2013), “From the Pre-Socratics to the Hellenistic Age”, in S. Bullivant and M. Ruse (eds.), The Oxford Handbook to Atheism, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 137–151.

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19 Cynics and Christians Mark Reasoner

Introduction: problems in definition Cynicism is that school of philosophers who demonstrate a hardiness in their actions, disregarding comfort or pain (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Philosophers 6.2). The intercourse of Cynicism with other philosophies, e.g. Antisthenes’ debt to Socrates and the Cynics’ contributions to Stoics, complicates its definition and recognition. Downing, whose stated intention is to identify the “popular impressions of Cynicism,” or “how things appeared to the populace at large,” defines Cynicism quite broadly (1992: 27, 30). This results in the wide net that he casts for characteristics that can be accounted as evidence for Cynicism: “Doing what comes naturally”; “The equipment” [wearing shabby cloak with no tunic, carrying a staff and a bag – though some Cynics did not use staff or bag]; “Wandering  – or staying put”; “Action rather than reflection”; “Providence and Fortune” [are generally denied; one rather acts to effect one’s own destiny]; “Religion and Mythology” [are generally belittled and scorned]; “The ‘Diatribe’ ”; “Cynic ‘slogans’ [including the catchwords anaidia ‘shamelessness’; apatheia ‘disregard for feeling’; askēsis ‘hard training, hard exercise, practice’; autarkeia ‘sufficiency’; doxa ‘opinion’; eleutheria ‘freedom’; hēdonē ‘pleasure’; kuōn, kunikos ‘dog,’ ‘doglike’; parrhēsia ‘frankness’; phusis ‘nature’; ponos ‘painfully hard work’; suntomos ‘shortcut to excellence’; spud[ai]ogeloios ‘jesting seriously’; tuphos ‘illusion’]” (Downing 1992: 30–53). The problems in Downing’s methodology are not uniquely his own. Previous descriptions of Cynicism have been similarly careless in distinguishing between essential and accidental characteristics of Cynicism, and between Cynicism and other philosophies. For example, Cynicism has been described as seeking to live virtuously (Origen, Against Celsus 3.50; Diogenes, Lives 6.104). But this description as Diogenes Laertius gives it to us is immediately identified as being similar to Stoicism. The descriptions of ascetic behavior that follows could just as easily be said of many outside the Cynic tradition, such as Pythagoras or Cato the Elder. In contrast to Downing’s wide net for Cynics, Desmond notes how the “renunciation of wealth” is the underlying value of all Cynics (2006: 16). But he goes on to distinguish between this renunciation and the ascetic behavior it engenders and various forms of asceticism, whether oriented toward religious experience, promoting the good of a community, securing victory in battle, or growing in intellect. The Cynic, in contrast, renounces physical and material pleasures 240

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not for these reasons, but as a sure way to experience pure, simple pleasure (Desmond 2006: 19–21). Desmond traces the Cynic development of the “renunciation of wealth” into four paradoxes that became topoi in what the Cynics left for us: “poverty is wealth, idleness is work, powerlessness is power, and wisdom is foolishness” (Desmond 2006: 24). The resonance of Cynic themes within early Christianity has prompted Downing to argue that early Christians, including the authors of the Synoptic Gospels, were aware that they sounded like Cynics and that they embraced the continuities with Cynic teaching that he finds in these gospels (Downing 1988: vii–ix). In the survey of early Christian literature that follows, we shall continue to consider just how Cynic the Christianities of the first two centuries CE really were.

Survey of first- and second-century texts Pauline letter corpus The earliest stratum of primary texts within Christian philosophy, the Pauline letter corpus, offers some resonance with Cynic discourse, thought and practice. Paul claims to be above dependence on any material support; he says that he is self-sufficient (αὐτάρκης) and can live with little or much in the way of physical resources, a statement that could echo Cynic ideals of renouncing materialism in one’s lifestyle (Philippians 4:11–12). In a later letter, Paul ironically describes his audience as reigning like kings, while he and other apostles are hungry and going through life as captives in a parade who are publically on display before execution (1 Corinthians 4:8–13). In a later letter, Paul or a disciple writing in his name describes the love of money as the root of all evils (1 Timothy 6:10). Still, we do not have a fully coherent argument about wealth in Paul’s letters. Paul makes some metaphysical claims about wealth while soliciting for a collection for the poor in Jerusalem or thanking a church for supporting him, but he does not offer as developed a philosophy of wealth as the Cynics’ literary remains provide. While some would read Paul’s opinion that it is better not to marry as echoing Cynic attitudes (1 Corinthians 7:8, 32–35, 38, 40), Paul’s moral sense for sexual behavior seems far from Cynic indifference (1 Thessalonians 4:3–5; 1 Cor 6:9–11; cf. Lucian, Passing of Peregrinus 9). Paul’s idea that marriage generates a saving environment for spouse and children does not have Cynic parallels (1 Corinthians 7:14–16). And while some Cynics were respectful of the gods, Paul’s piety seems far removed from most of the Cynic discourse, which disparages living in ways that respect the gods (Romans 1:18–21; 9:5). Paul, like two Stoic contemporaries, taught that people should live according to human custom (Musonius Rufus, frag. 6 Hense; Seneca, Letters to Lucilius 5.2; Romans 12:17b). In that regard, he is different from Cynics, at least as Horace pictured them (Epistles 1.17.13–32; Sat. 2.2.65; Griffin 1996: 196). In the history of Pauline interpretation, Paul has been read as though he were participating in Platonist (2 Corinthians 4:16–18; Justin) and Stoic philosophies, but only rarely has he been associated with the Cynics (Downing 1992). Early in his career, A. J. Malherbe followed through on the suggestion of Dibelius and developed the Cynic parallels in 1 Thessalonians 2. After summarizing Dio Chrysostom’s descriptions of false and ideal Cynic philosophers, Malherbe lists parallels between Dio’s description of the ideal philosopher and Paul’s description of his apostolic ministry. Malherbe finds Cynic parallels in Paul’s claims to speak: boldly as in a serious contest; not in order to lead his audience astray; not on an unclean basis or deceptively; not in order to receive glory from others; not by falsely complimenting others; on the basis of a divine commission (1970: 205–209, 216). Later, Malherbe noted that in the letter of 1 Thessalonians, Paul claims to use bold speech (παρρησία) as did the Cynic philosophers. But unlike 241

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the Cynics, who justified their bold speech because of their sufferings and accomplishments, Paul justified his bold speech on the basis of his divine commission (1983b: 249). Malherbe notes that there are Stoic parallels as well in the letter, and that Paul seems to side with Plutarch’s Platonic criticism of the Epicurean description of friendship, so it is not as though he is claiming that Paul is uniquely indebted to Cynic terminology in the letter (1983b: 249, 253). Similarly, the nurse and father metaphors that Paul uses for himself fit with contemporary moral encouragement of the first century CE, but are not limited to Cynic discourse (1983b: 242). In sorting out the possible debts that early Christian thought holds to Platonic, Cynic and Stoic philosophies, it is helpful to consider the genetic explanation of Goulet-Cazé. She sees all three philosophies as attempting to follow and present themselves as authentic successors of Socrates. While the Platonists emphasized reason or the logos, the Cynics emphasized the imposition of the will as the way forward through the difficulties of life. The Stoics then tried the near-impossible by claiming that they were both looking to the logos as the key to human life, while not abandoning the Cynic emphasis on the will’s subjugation of the body (GouletCazé 1986: 190–191). Because of terms that Paul uses in 2 Corinthians, Malherbe suggests that in Corinth Paul was accused of being like Odysseus, weak in battle and duplicitous. He thinks that Paul uses Cynic language in his defense, but that instead of asking others to humiliate themselves, Paul treats his own humiliation as a means of battling for virtue. And unlike the Cynics, who used military language in their claim to have ultimate confidence in themselves, Paul’s use of such language in 2 Corinthians 10:3–6 arises out of his confidence in God (Malherbe 1983a: 169–171). It should be noted, however, that while Downing might take Malherbe’s work as evidence that the general public viewed Paul as a Cynic because of his Cynic language, Malherbe is actually suggesting that while Paul described himself as in some ways like the Cynic philosopher Antisthenes, Paul also uses this language because it is the idiom in which others were criticizing Paul (1983a: 167–168, 172–173). Malherbe is not claiming that Paul understood his apostolic identity to be fundamentally Cynic in character. In 2 Timothy 4:2, the author – perhaps someone writing in Paul’s name after Paul’s death – commands that Timothy “preach the word, be focused in season [and] out of season” (κήρυξον τὸν λόγον, ἐπίστηθι εὐκαίρως ἀκαίρως). Malherbe notes that the Cynic philosophers were scorned because they spoke out even at inopportune or awkward times, while the Stoics and others emphasized that the philosopher’s street preaching and private persuasion should be done only at appropriate, opportune times (1984: 237–240). Malherbe finds it remarkable that Paul uses the “in season [and] out of season” phrase here, but explains it by noting that those to whom the letter’s implied audience are to speak are heretics for whom the timing of the teaching will not matter anyway (2 Timothy 3:6; Titus 1:11), and that the implied author’s eschatology considers God to have fixed the times, so that human judgment on the appropriate times will not matter (1 Timothy 2:6; 6:15; Titus 1:3; Malherbe 1984: 242–243).

Synoptic gospels In a later stratum of NT texts, the Synoptic Gospels describe Jesus as telling a predominantly Jewish audience not to think about the next day, not to take any concern for one’s food, drink or clothing, but simply to depend on God for all these material needs (Matthew 6:25–34). The theological underpinning of this disregard for life’s necessities is different from that of most Cynics. In their descriptions of Jesus sending his followers out to announce the kingdom of God and heal, the Synoptics record Jesus as telling both the apostles and the seventy disciples not to take money, bread or bag – the Cynics’ πήρα? – with them (Matthew 10:9–10; Mark 242

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6:8; Luke 9:3). Acts 19:18–20 describes converts in Ephesus burning their magic books, and this has been suggested as a Cynic practice, since Metrocles burned his notes from the lectures of Theophrastus when he decided to become a Cynic (Diogenes, Lives 6.95). But others besides Cynics burned books (Aelian frag. 89 on an Epicurean), and the hypothesis that Acts is describing former Cynics in Ephesus must be rejected (Pervo 2009: 481, n. 57). Downing identifies similarities between gospel and Cynic texts along the following axes: “addressing ‘ordinary people’ (including women)”; the message goes out to the whole world; “similar agents: ‘ordinary people’ – including women”; “a similarly unpretentious message”; significance of who taught the teacher/philosopher; “the teacher who reprimands all and sundry”; “you are animals (or worse)”; “the wrath to come”; “repentance”; “inherited privilege”; “fruitful in deed”; “symbolic action, socially disturbing”; “one mightier than I”; “temptation and resistance (a) hunger (b) royal power (c) wonder-working”; “an evil, tempting spirit or daimon”; “God’s will preferred”; “true happiness”; “poverty and riches”; “hunger and repletion, sadness and laughter”; “hatred and rejection”; “the happy rewards – now and to come”; “love your enemies”; “give, generously”; “do as you would be done by, (b) give freely, (c) be godlike” (1–29). As we saw in the “Problems of definition” section earlier, however, these purported parallels do not identify essential characteristics of Cynicism, and thus can be found in those following other philosophies besides Cynicism.

Apostolic Fathers and after The Didache (ca. 100) similarly offers some guidelines for Christians that seem on first reading to be analogous to Cynic teaching. Thus readers there are told to “abstain from fleshly and bodily cravings” (1:4a), to share all one’s material good with those in need, regarding no possession as one’s own (4:8). Greed is to be avoided (5:1). When traveling apostles or prophets visit a community, they are to be given food and lodging for one or two days, but those who ask to stay more than this are to be shunned as false. When sent on their way, the community must only give them enough food to make it to the next stop on their journey and must avoid giving them money (11:5–6). These directions sound as though the apostles and prophets in view are to be treated as traveling Cynic philosophers. Justin Martyr (100–165 CE) most explicitly links his Christian philosophy with Plato, and his only mention of the Cynics is to assert a fundamental difference. The links with Platonism are found in First Apology 8 – divine punishment of the wicked; First Apology 18 – conscious existence of souls after death; First Apology 20, 59 – God is creator; First Apology 44 – human responsibility for moral choices; First Apology 60 – doctrine of the cross known by Plato through Moses. After Platonism, Justin is most likely to name the Stoics and then poets as those who echo the truth of the Christian philosophy (First Apology 20; 2 Apol. 13). In his Apologies, Justin only mentions Cynics when explaining why Crescens cannot recognize truth, since Crescens as a Cynic makes indifference his life’s goal (2 Apol. 3). Downing understands Justin’s protest that Crescens acts as he does in order not to be identified as a Christian as evidence for the perceived overlap of second-century Cynicism and Christianity, as though Crescens is prosecuting Justin to set a divide between them (Downing 1992: 171). But the text from which Downing draws his argument can just as readily be read to say that Crescens generally acts as a Cynic so that he will not be understood to be a Christian (Second Apology 3). And though Justin is described as wearing the Cynic’s cloak after being baptized, this is not enough evidence that the general public perceived a large segment of Christians to be Cynics (Eusebius, Church History 4.11.8, letter 9). Justin’s statement to Trypho that he as a Christian has left the Stoic, Peripatetic, Platonist and Pythagorean schools, followed by Trypho’s retort that Justin should have stayed with the 243

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Platonists rather than throwing in his lot with the unrecognized, is taken by Downing to indicate that Justin is very close to Cynicism, for this was the philosophy that paid no heed to logic (1992: 180; Trypho 2.8). Here there is no evidence that Trypho, not to mention the general public, considered Justin to be a Cynic; the “unrecognized” at first reading are the Christians. Clement of Alexandria (150–215 CE) wrote that the philosophers known as Cynics (“dogs”) are given that name because they bite others (Stromateis 1). He would therefore oppose the spread of any opinion that the Christians were Cynic in their background.

Second-century pagan authors Marcus Aurelius (121–180 CE) perhaps obliquely refers to Christians in his Meditations, but never likens them to Cynics (1.6; 3.16; 7.68; 8.48, 51; 11.3). His autobiographical description of how he came to have few wants, work on his own and not mind others of course parallels Cynic traits, but no one would consider him a Cynic (1.5). In his satire, The Passing of Peregrinus, Lucian (ca. 125–181 CE) describes how Peregrinus spends time leading Christians, only to be rejected by them for what he eats (see further Edwards 1989; König 2006). The description of the Christians emphasizes how gullible and simple they are (Peregrinus 13). Peregrinus does dress like a Cynic philosopher during his second stint among the Christians (Peregrinus 16). But it is only after leaving the Christians that he begins to practice behaviors that the Cynics called indifferent (ἀδιάφορον, Peregrinus 17). The point of Lucian’s description of Peregrinus’ time with Christians is not to show how similar they are to Cynics, but how unsuspecting and easily taken they were by the intrepid Peregrinus (Peregrinus 11–13). A similarity that can be seen between second-century church fathers and Lucian is that both groups ridiculed the Homeric pantheon and the idea that there was a deterministic cast to the universe. Downing traces the template for these critiques to standard Cynic discourse (Downing 1992: 182). But ridicule of foreign gods could just as easily spring from some of the fathers’ familiarity with the Old Testament, or in the case of Justin, from exchanges in Platonic dialogues that point toward monotheism (Psalm 82:1–8; Isaiah 44:6–20; Jeremiah 10.1–11; Plato, Euthyphro 7b–9a; Republic 508e; Timaeus 29e–48d, 92c).

The relationship between Cynic and Christian Philosophies Malherbe observes in his introduction that New Testament scholars have carelessly used “CynicStoic” as a designation for the context of moral philosophers active in the first and second centuries CE, during the spread of Christianity. He calls for greater attention to the differences between Cynicism and Stoic philosophies, though he does not offer criteria for distinguishing between the two. The texts presented in his volume of Cynic letters are not accompanied by explanations for how they could help us understand Christianity better. The earliest of letters in that volume is the collection attributed to Anacharsis; most of them come from 300–250 BCE; Cynic letters written in the first century CE could be those of Crates, Diogenes (Epistle 19), and the letters of Heraclitus (Malherbe 6, 10, 14, 22). Though some of them demonstrate a piety toward the gods that is consonant with Christianity (Heraclitus, Epistles 4, 9), in general they part ways with Christian thought in their metaphysics, one aspect of epistemology and in their ethics.

Human autonomy The Cynics’ construction of the human self as the only entity worth acknowledging or s­erving is far from Christian thought. Goulet-Cazé distills the essence of Cynicism as the defense of 244

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one’s deepest self from all attacks upon it (1986: 229). By contrast, the Christian tradition follows in the wake of Jewish thought with an acknowledgement and dependence on the Holy Spirit as an essential guide on the path to full personhood (1 Corinthians 2:10–12). The metaphor that Christians are adopted brothers of Christ, who are being conformed into the image of this Christ, is also very different from the Cynic quest for autonomy (Romans 8:29). The radical orientation on the individual self is the basis for the Cynics’ shameless mode of speech and action. According to Krueger, Downing “has downplayed shamelessness” as an identifying trait of Diogenes and other Cynics (1996: 229, n. 51). Paul is unashamed of the gospel, but in his ethical guidelines, he asks his readers to think and live above shame (Romans 1:16; 12:17; Philippians 4:8). Both Cynics and Christians could be viewed as rejecting the social norms of civilized society. Tacitus’ description of the Christians as haters of humanity could also have been directed at a variety of Cynics, who avoided normal social intercourse and politics (Tacitus, Annals 15.44; Diogenes, Lives 6.29, 72; Cicero, On Ends 3.68). This independence from society was often framed in a moral context. Griffin claims that the Cynic elements within the Stoicism of the Principate functioned as a conscience for society, keeping Stoicism from being equated merely with whatever those of senatorial rank wanted (Griffin 1996: 204). Still, the early church’s position that one must follow Christ is a wholly different sort of shameless rejection of society than the Cynics’ radical defense of the human subject. In general, the Cynic insistence on human autonomy and one’s own self as an autonomous, impregnable subject is a key factor in the Cynics’ agnostic or atheistic metaphysics. Cynics thus resisted any cult that could be paid to the transcendent. On the other hand, the Christian texts affirm, in continuity with Judaism, a deep regard for the transcendent God’s existence in the universe and thankful response to this deity’s immanent provision for humankind. The Cynic emphasis on self-sufficiency is a development of Eleatic ontology, in which true existence involves being one, unperturbed by people or forces outside one’s own self. For most Cynics, “the self is the only reality” (Desmond 2006: 170). This metaphysical position would necessarily make Cynic lifestyles much different from Christians’ lifestyles. The surface similarities between Cynics and Christians, e.g., living simply and scorning some social norms, seem sufficient to account only for the very few places in the first through fourth centuries CE when some continuities have been suggested between Cynics and Christians. But even if the prescriptive discourse and narratives on how Christians related to others inside and outside their communities is only partially reflective of Christians’ social intercourse in those centuries, most observers would not consider Christianity to be an outgrowth of Cynicism.

Relation to the material world A related metaphysical difference concerns how one regards the material world. Cynic thought treats nature as an adiaphoron; it is not valued in itself. What nature can provide for a human is to be used for survival, but not considered valuable for its place in the created world. By contrast, Christian texts, in continuity with their Jewish roots, affirm the value of the created world, assigning a sacramental regard for some parts of it, whether as ingredients in cultic rites or simply as one’s God-given gifts in this life (1 Corinthians 10:25–26, citing Psalms 24:1; 50:12; Didache 9:1–4; 10:3). These opposed philosophical orientations can at times lead to what appears to be the same behavior: thus because of Cynics’ refusal to acknowledge the transcendent, they view as indifferent the accumulation of material resources and scoff at the accumulation of wealth. But it is precisely because of early Christian teachings that God exists and cares for humankind that 245

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some Christian texts similarly speak against accumulating material resources and criticize the wealthy (Luke 12:13–21; 16:19–31). Material wealth can be described as a barrier to the good life (Matthew 19:23–24; Mark 10:23–25; Luke 18:24–25). But this wealth is criticized because it leads people away from being “rich toward God” (Luke 12:13–21), not for the deconstructive work that the Cynics brought to wealth, based on its ultimate vacuity or the difficulties and additional work accompanying it.

Human knowledge, will and emotion Like Paul in 1 Corinthians 1, the Cynics mocked worldly wisdom (Desmond 166–167). But the resemblance ends there. While the Cynics’ scorn for worldly wisdom is based on the affirmation of the self as the one good, early Christian texts instead center their focus on the cross and resurrection of Christ, which is the proof of God’s deliverance of humanity and the orientation for one’s metaphysical universe (1 Corinthians 1:22–25). Christian authors of antiquity differ profoundly from most Cynics over the role that feelings play in human consciousness, knowledge and action. The Cynics famously seek to live above feelings (Diogenes, Lives 6.2). There has been disagreement regarding whether the love of YHWH enjoined on the Israelites in the book of Deuteronomy is devoid of feeling or not, but in the New Testament, commands or encouragement to rejoice and empathize with those in pain or joy are common (Moran 1963; Lapsley 2003; Romans 12:15; Philippians 3:1; 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16; 1 Peter 4:13). In general, Cynic discourse has little regard for the love of God (understood either as subjective or objective), and would not consider this or any human love to motivate a Cynic to sacrifice one’s life for another (cf. John 10:11, 15; 15:13; Revelation 12:11). Thus, in various areas of epistemology, there are significant differences in Christian and Cynic understandings of the human subject.

Ethics There is also a difference in ethical orientation. The Cynics denied the value of marriage. Despite wide variety in Christian theoretical discourse regarding marriage, on the whole, most Christian authors of the early centuries affirm marriage as a sacrament for some to enter and embrace as a channel of grace for spouse, children and self (1 Peter 3:7; 1 Corinthians 7:12–16; Colossians 3:18–21; Ephesians 5:21–6:4). The Cynics were indifferent regarding what they ate. Despite Paul’s apparent statement on the indifference of all foods in Christ and Mark’s adoption of this idea (Romans 14:14; Mark 7:14), the New Testament and later authors do not hold foods indifferently, but typically rule against eating food offered to idols (Acts 15:20, 29; Revelation 2:14, 20). This stereotype is perhaps reflected in Lucian’s explanation for why the Cynic pretender Peregrinus was rejected by the Christians (Peregrinus 16). There is a significant difference regarding what one does with one’s speech. The Cynics’ indifference in speech apparently led them to be unrestrained in the verbal abuse they offered others (Lucian, Peregrinus 18). On the other hand, the Christian approach to speech generally follows the Jewish wisdom tradition, valuing one who uses few words, who takes care in his speech. But sometimes Cynics would criticize behavior that Christians would also find objectionable. The public criticism that Diogenes and Heras directed against Titus’ liaison with Berenice does not seem that far from what John the Baptist directed against Antipas (Cassius Dio, Histories 66.15.5; Mark 6:17–18). 246

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Cynics adapted the Greek value of “martial poverty,” i.e., fighting with the few weapons one has for one’s city-state or land, in their discourse of fighting against luxury, greed or violence (Desmond 140). Origen had made a similar move in his exegesis of the holy war texts of the Old Testament, but no one would say he was influenced by the Cynics in doing this. In addition, the Christian call for being filled by the Holy Spirit invites the transcendent into the human quest for virtue in ways the Cynics do not approximate (Romans 8:2, 10–16; Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 6:17–18). Desmond identifies a paradox in that the Cynic philosophers would claim that their own idleness was work, while at the same time telling others that pain and work was a necessary part of life, even citing Heracles’ labors as exemplary for others (71). But anyone who reads the New Testament would not find such a paradox there; the moral exhortations dealing with work are uniformly in favor of avoiding idleness and working (Colossians 3:23–24; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:6–13).

Conclusion Later Christian discourse occasionally acknowledges the Stoics, but there is no evidence that its authors regarded their faith or lifestyle as the outgrowth of Cynicism. Admiration for Cynic behaviors, such as the praise Gregory of Nazianzus gives for Antisthenes’ lack of retaliation when hit in the face, except to write the name of his attacker on papyrus and affix it to his (Antisthenes’ own) forehead, does not imply any kind of genetic relationship between Cynicism and Christianity (Gregory Nazianzen, Oration against Julian 1 = Patrologia Graeca 35, 596; commentary by Ps. Nonnus in Patrologia Graeca 36, 1001d; see also Diogenes, Lives 6.33). Dorival’s summary (1993) of the Greek fathers’ positions on Cynic philosophers helps to make sense of the difficulties in defining Cynicism and in the complicated web of questions when considering Christianity’s relationship to Cynicism. During the period of the Roman Empire, Dorival conceives of two versions of Cynic philosophy. The one that has its own goal and specific purpose he considers completely incompatible with Christianity. The other form of Cynicism, which is a set of behaviors without an integrating, Cynic purpose, he regards as compatible with Christianity, or with other philosophies, such as Stoicism. But even here, he writes that such a Cynic must consider suicide to be wrong, must positively regard ascetic discipline, and must be positive toward the transcendent deities. Since these specific traits were rare among Cynics, Dorival concludes that even these Christian Cynics were not numerous (1993: 443). This makes good sense of the evidence. There were certainly models within the New Testament and in the early centuries of Christianity of specific behaviors that are very similar to Stoic behaviors. But even when one allows for the varieties within Cynicism and Christianity, the Cynics’ foundations and goals for their behaviors were significantly different from the Christians’ foundations and goals for similar-appearing behaviors.

Bibliography Desmond, W. D. (2006), The Greek Praise of Poverty: Origins of Ancient Cynicism, Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. Dorival, G. (1993), “L’image des Cyniques chez les Pères grecs”, in M. O. Goulet-Cazé and R. Goulet (eds.), Les Cynisme ancien et ses prolongements: Acts du Colloque International du CNRS, Paris: Presses Universitaires, 419–443. Downing, F. G. (1988), Christ and the Cynics: Jesus and Other Radical Preachers in First-Century Tradition, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Manuals 4, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic.

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Downing, F. G. (1992), Cynics and Christian Origins, Edinburgh: T&T Clark. Edwards, M. J. (1989), “Satire and Verisimilitude: Christianity in Lucian’s Peregrinus”, Historia 38, 89–98. Goulet-Cazé, M. O. (1986), L’ascèse cynique: un commentaire de Diogène Laërce VI, Paris: Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin, 70–71. Griffin, M. (1996), “Cynicism and the Romans: Attraction and Repulsion”, in R. Bracht Branham and M. O. Goulet-Cazé (eds.), The Cynics: The Cynic Movement in Antiquity and Its Legacy, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 190–204. König, J. P. (2006), “The Cynic and Christian Lives of Lucian’s Peregrinus”, in B. McGing and J. Mossman (eds.), The Limits of Ancient Biography, Swansea: Classical Press of Wales, 227–254. Krueger, D. (1996), “The Bawdy and Society: The Shamelessness of Diogenes in Roman Imperial Culture”, in R. Bracht Branham and M.-O. Goulet-Cazé (eds.), The Cynics: The Cynic Movement in Antiquity and Its Legacy, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 222–239. Lapsley, J. E. (2003), “Feeling Our Way: Love for God in Deuteronomy”, Catholic Biblical Quarterly 65, 350–369. Malherbe, A. J. (1970), “ ‘Gentle as a Nurse’: The Cynic Background to 1 Thess 2”, Novum Testamentum 12, 203–217. Malherbe, A. J. (ed.). (1977), The Cynic Epistles: A Study Edition, SBLSBS 12, Missoula, MT: Scholars. Malherbe, A. J. (1983a), “Antisthenes and Odysseus, and Paul at War”, Harvard Theological Review 76, 143–173. Malherbe, A. J. (1983b), “Exhortation in First Thessalonians”, Novum Testamentum 25, 238–256. Malherbe, A. J. (1984), “ ‘In Season and Out of Season’: 2 Timothy 4:2”, Journal of Biblical Literature 103, 235–243. Moran, W. (1963), “The Ancient Near Eastern Background of the Love of God in Deuteronomy”, Catholic Biblical Quarterly 25, 77–87. Pervo, R. I. (2009), Acts: A Commentary, Hermeneia, Minneapolis: Fortress.

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Taxonomy of the sceptics Had Marcus Aurelius endowed a chair in Scepticism when he provided subsidies for four other Athenian schools in 176, it might have been claimed by any of three sects, though it is unlikely that by this fate any of them could have furnished a scholarch worthy of the office: 1

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The Pyrrhonists take their name from a philosopher who served in the army of Alexander the Great (Diogenes Laertius, Lives 9.58 and 9.61), and has consequently been suspected of bringing home from the east his nihilistic doctrine that all propositions can be doubted, including this very tenet that all propositions can be doubted (see further Beckwith 2015). Since he himself wrote nothing, it is far from certain that he himself would have made the last reservation (Bett 2000); even the ten “modes”, or arguments for suspension of judgment, which were set out by his disciple Aenesidemus in the first century, are known to us only from the Outlines of Pyrrhonism by Sextus Empiricus, a Greek of the Roman era. In 11 other treatises against various arts and branches of purported knowledge, Sextus freely avails himself of stratagems first employed by the Academics against the Stoics, his object being not to prove anything, even a negative, but to demonstrate the futility of all attempted proofs (Barnes 1990). As a system of thought, his Scepticism (deriving its name from skepsis, or inquiry) is therefore parasitic; whether it can be adopted as a rule of life is a question still in dispute (see further Burnyeat and Frede 1997). The New Academy – sometimes divided into the Middle Academy, beginning with Arcesilaus (fl. 250 B.C.), and the New Academy proper, spanning the 70 years from Carneades (fl 155 B.C.) to Philo of Larissa – discovers the essence of Plato’s teaching not in his more constructive works, but in the “aporetic” dialogues which show Socrates exploding the claims to knowledge advanced by his rivals or interlocutors while making no contribution of his own beyond an admission of his continuing ignorance. Carneades became the recognised master of corrosive dialectic (Cicero, Academics 2.11–12), and his refutations of proofs for the existence of the gods (which should not be taken as apologues for atheism) are rehearsed at length by Sextus (Against the Professors 9.138–190; see Sedley 2013: 147–150). Cicero, speaking in his own person, borrows his arguments on the negative side 249

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in his treatise On Divination; in his dialogue On the Nature of the Gods, the final speech is allotted to Cotta, a Roman magistrate, who doubts the sincerity of the Epicureans (since they scoff at providence, yet engage in worship) but is unconvinced by the tokens of divine benevolence which the Stoics profess to have culled from nature (3.89). His own asseveration that he will not depart from his custom of revering his native gods according to the way of his fathers (mos maiorum at 3.7 and 3.43) is a Roman version of the principle laid down by Carneades that the wise man will assent to impressions but will shape his conduct at any time according to that impression which appears to him most plausible (pithanon), or in Cicero’s Latin, most veri simile, “like the truth” (e.g On Divination 30, 89, 113). Although the name “Old Academy” can be used of the first successors of Plato, it was also assumed by the followers of Antiochus of Ascalon, who studied in Rome under Philo of Larissa after 88 B.C. but was in Athens when he taught Cicero in 79 B.C. In opposition to Philo (on whom see Brittain 2001), Antiochus argued that Plato correctly ascribed to the intellect a capacity for discerning truth from falsehood, and could therefore give a qualified assent to both metaphysical and moral propositions. In Cicero’s Academics, the position of Antiochus is represented by his friend Lucullus, while that of the New Academy which preceded him is represented by Varro the antiquarian, with a playful intimation that the new may be superior to the old (Academics 2.4). From Cicero’s approving commentary on his ethical judgments in his works On Ends and On Offices, it is clear that Antiochus favoured the rigorous principles of the Stoics, eschewing only their notorious dogmatism (Glucker 1978: 27). It is not so clear that he held any metaphysical positions which would entitle him to be called the father of Middle Platonism (Barnes 1989).

Roman scepticism and Christian faith In the Octavius of Minucius Felix, a dialogue modelled on Cicero, a satirical observation on pagan worship by the Christian speaker provokes an acerbic rejoinder from his friend Caecilius. At the outset, the pagan proceeds that we cannot hope to discover the truth about the gods, but only the truth-like (veri simile), which consists for him, as it did for Cicero’s Cotta, in the precepts handed down by the fathers to whom Rome owes her greatness (Octavius 6, 14). Anticipating the Christian appeal to the fatherhood of the one God, as displayed in his acts of providence, he builds up a case against this from the obvious injustices of fortune (5). Yet almost at once, as though to avert the charge of Epicurean dogmatism, he recalls the many epiphanies of Rome’s gods as recorded by her own panegyrists (6–7) – a mode of argument treated with disdain by Cicero’s Cotta in his rebuttal of the Stoics (Nature of Gods 3.42–50). Although he regards the cult of ancestral deities as the duty of every people, he justifies the persecution of Christians by secondhand imputations on their morality, which he borrows from Fronto, the tutor of Marcus Aurelius (9). Reminiscent as they are of Roman allegations against the rites of Dionysius in 186 B.C., these slanders reveal that the mos maiorum is nothing but a superstition underpinned by ignorance and cruelty, and far from consistent in its use of scepticism as an intellectual veneer. Christian doxographers in the age of Minucius barely notice the Sceptics. We look in vain for the names of Aenesidemus, Carneades, Philo of Larissa or Antiochus of Ascalon in Hippolytus’ Refutation of all Heresies. Pyrrho he knows by reputation only, ranking him among the Presocratics between Hermotimus and Pythagoras (1.11) – an error repeated in the sixth century by John Philoponus (On Aristotle’s Categories, p. 2.15 Busse). He is acquainted with a doxographic tradition which divides the Academics (as he styles them) into two classes, one of which tries 250

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both sides of every question but affirms neither, while the other affirms that nothing is more what it seems to be than its contrary. His refutation of the astrological lore professed by certain heretics, on the other hand, is all but a transcript from Sextus, or from the sources plagiarised by Sextus himself (see Against the Mathematicians 5.1–36 with Litwa 2016: 91–93). Thus there is nothing original in Hippolytus’ contention that we cannot know the exact time of conception, as we cannot follow the seed in its path from the vulva to the womb; again it is old news that even the moment of parturition is indefinable, and that some time must elapse between the recording of the birth by one observer and the transmission of his report to his colleague who is watching the stars. Carneades had already pointed out that there must be persons who shared the time of birth to an instant but have not enjoyed the same destiny, and the differences of opinion between Archimedes and Hipparchus with regard to sidereal distances and motions were known to every dilettante in this science. Of course it is no part of the heresiologist’s project to be original: the more commonplace his arguments, the less likely it is that they will be gainsaid.

Pagan and Christian genealogies of Scepticism Christian apologists, boasting of their allegiance to a single founder, never tire of mocking the constant schisms and rebellions which have given rise to the multiplicity of pagan schools. In their support, they could quote Greeks who had likened the fissiparation of doctrine to the dismemberment of Pentheus the legendary king of Thebes. A scurrilous account of the secession of the academy from Plato by Numenius of Apamea is excerpted at length in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Preparation for the Gospel. Numenius begins by contrasting the famous unanimity of the Epicureans with the continual innovations of the Stoics and the divided legacy of Socrates. Commending Plato’s fusion of Socratic with Pythagorean doctrines, he acknowledges that even his first successors were not in all respects his disciples; the fall into scepticism, however, he traces not to principled disagreement but to the rivalry between Zeno and Arcesilaus, two students of Polemo. While Zeno amplified the teachings of Plato with those of the Stoics, Arcesilaus went from one tradition to another in search of novelty until at last he hit on the works of Pyrrho, and started to teach universal suspension of judgment as though it were Plato’s own philosophy. Lacydes differed from him in denying that suspension of judgment is possible in every case, distinguishing those questions on which we cannot form an opinion from those on which we must merely confess a degree of uncertainty. His own scepticism, however, was prompted not by metaphysical reflection but by the secret depredations of his slaves, which for a time led him to imagine that he had deceived himself with regard to his own possessions. Once he discovered the subterfuge, he took his revenge, exclaiming, when his slaves asked what had become of his practice of suspending judgment, that the rules of the classroom are not the rules of life. Next came Carneades, weighing both sides of each question on the scales of plausibility, yet never professing certitude even when balancing a vivid apprehension against the falsehood that mimics truth. For all that, he permitted no logical doubts to temper his wrath when he found his pupil in bed with his wife. In the final excerpt, the apostasy of Antiochus of Ascalon from Philo of Larissa is presented not as a return to Plato but as a defection to the Stoics. All this is of interest only to historians of burlesque. By contrast, all three books of Augustine’s dialogue Against the Academics display the same philosophic gravity that he brings in other works to the unmasking of illusory claims to knowledge. His account of the rise of methodological doubt in the school of Plato is not polemical, though it lacks corroboration in ancient sources. Like Numenius, he traces it to a quarrel between two students of Polemo, but in this telling it is Zeno who is to blame when he maintains, in defiance of Plato, that the real is the corporeal, with the consequence that the soul too is a body and therefore mortal (Against the 251

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Academics 3.17.38). Thus the Stoa was founded, but rather than set one dogmatic system against another, Arcesilaus subverted the new philosophy with the weapons of scepticism, After him, Carneades enlarged the arsenal, still concealing the authentic doctrines of the school from those without. Philo of Larissa, in this narrative, was preparing to make them public once again, but was forced back to the policy of Arcesilaus when Antiochus of Ascalon revived the errors of Zeno. The Second Book of the Academics is Cicero’s refutation of Antiochus, in the wake of which it has at last become possible for the true successors of Plato to expound his teaching without dissimulation (3.18.41). Scholars have found no warrant for the ascription of esoteric Platonism to the successors of Polemo, except for the juxtaposition of Metrodorus with the mysteries of Athens in an autobiographical passage of Cicero’s On the Orator (3.60). Augustine says on behalf of Arcesilaus that he practised reticence only as a corrective to the propensity of the multitude to seize upon new thoughts without reflection (Against the Academics 3.17.38). Such a hypothesis naturally commended itself to a Platonist familiar with the descants of Numenius and Plotinus on the ineffability of the highest principle; it also commended itself to a future bishop in an epoch when the creed of the church was, notionally at least, kept secret until the instruction of the catechumen was finished. Most scholars today, however, would endorse Charles Brittain’s verdict (2001: 245) that the motives here attributed to Philo have “only a tenuous relation to any thesis” that he “could have entertained”.

Augustine against the Academics Whatever one makes of its historiography, the ratiocinative element in the dialogue has been admired in modern times, even by critics who do not share the author’s religion. Ostensibly an unabridged transcript of a real conversation, it is addressed to a friend of the magisterial class who is in need of the consolations of philosophy after providence (or as the world says, ill fortune) has robbed him of the gratifications that would normally accrue to his rank and office. The subject of discussion, says Augustine, was the question which he put to his friends Alypius, Trygetius and Licentius: would we choose happiness if it were not accompanied by truth (1.2.5)? Trygetius opines that if this state is possible, we may reasonably desire it; Licentius replies that we cannot be happy unless we employ the highest of our faculties, which, being divine, will not be satisfied by anything less than the search for truth (1.4.11). The happiness of the intellect consists in this perpetual seeking, but need not result in the finding of the object (1.2.6; 1.4.10): the wise man is the one who withholds his assent from all impressions which do not meet the strict criterion of proof, and thus avoids falling into error. He may be compared to a traveller who unerringly follows the road to Alexandria, but happens to die before he attains his goal (1.4.11; cf Plato, Meno 97a–b). After a digression on the occasional successes of diviners (1.6.17–1.8.22), Licentius reaffirms his view that those who resolutely abstain from error are wiser than those who are ready with answers but hit upon truth only intermittently and without any rational method. Wisdom in fact has two aspects, knowing and seeking, but the former pertains to God and the latter to us (1.8.23). In the second book, these opinions are expressly attributed to the Academics, and it is argued that the wise man lives in accordance with his philosophy by following those impressions that seem to him probable without giving his assent (2.6.14). A quotation from a lost portion of the Academics confirms that the Latin probabile (Greek pithanon) is equivalent in Ciceronian usage to veri simile, “like the truth” (2.11.26), but here, Augustine urges, is the patent fallacy of the Sceptic’s position, for how can we know what is like the truth unless we are acquainted with truth itself (2.8.20)? The absurdity will be obvious if we imagine that without having met a man’s 252

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father, I pronounce him to be the image of his father (2.7.16). Augustine, so far as we know, is the originator of this famous argument; we must add, however, that we have little knowledge of ancient writing against the Sceptics, and that no Greek antecedent is conceivable, since no term meaning “like the truth” was employed in this language as a synonym for pithanon. It is open to the Greek Sceptic to maintain that the pithanon is simply that which is apt to persuade us, and that under this description we may include both the data conveyed to us by the senses and the analytical propositions marshalled by Augustine in his third book as examples of knowledge which cannot be doubted. The Sceptic will agree that the mind is less easily deceived in arithmetical computation than in its inferences from sensory impressions, but he is not therefore obliged to deny that impressions may be less or more persuasive; he may admit that his moral judgments are merely probable, but he will not therefore admit that he is more likely to sin than the dogmatist who upholds the same norms with unreasoning conviction. Augustine may urge that, but for the divine monitor within us, we could not be sure of any of our beliefs; the Sceptic will retort that he can act without being sure. In other works, Augustine becomes a virtuoso Sceptic, pressing doubt to the point where it becomes its own assassin. If the Sceptic doubts the truth of a proposition – that is to say, its correspondence to the reality that it purports to signify – he has failed to grasp Cicero’s principle that the word is a name of a thing (On the Teacher 5.16), and has therefore failed to draw the obvious inference that we should not invent a word if there were nothing to be named (9.26). As Wittgenstein later argued, we must know that the speaker intends us to fix our attention not on the word itself but on the object which is not present to us (cf. 8.23–24). Since this rule is logically anterior to the construal of any sign, it cannot be conveyed to us in signs; it follows, as there is no other instrument of education, that our ability to interpret signs as signs must be innate. Furthermore, in interpreting any particular word, we must be conscious, not only of a general principle of signification, but of an actual correspondence between this signifier and the thing signified; we must therefore possess the intellectual concept as a correlative to the sign (10.28, 10.34). This is another version of the argument that we cannot identify that which is like the truth without some knowledge of truth itself; in other hands, it might lead to a Platonic theory of forms or the Aristotelian postulation of the active intellect. For Augustine, it shows that Christ himself, as the way, the truth and the life, is the invisible touchstone by which every act of reason is verified, even in the unbeliever (11.38–14.46). The construction of an argument against the possibility of attaining truth is thus made to attest presence of truth within us, just as Augustine demonstrates elsewhere, foreshadowing Descartes, that I cannot coherently question my belief in my own existence, since even to entertain a false belief I must exist (City of God 11.26; see Bubacz 1978). The Sceptic may grant this last conclusion as a tautology from which nothing follows. For reasons that we have already adumbrated, he will not accept the argument that the very possibility of reasoning necessitates an internal standard of truth. Least of all will he grant Augustine’s deduction in his dialogue On Free Will (2.2.5) that, if the object of wisdom is higher than wisdom itself, we must seek our happiness not in wisdom but in this object, which is evidently God. Augustine assumes that the object is the highest thing in reality, defining the real as that which exists independently of wisdom; Sextus, on the other hand, had countered a similar inference by denying this last assumption and defining the object of wisdom as nothing more than an accurate estimate of the likely truth of any proposition (Against the Professors 9.125). At the root of Augustine’s quarrel with the Academy is his conviction that, since there is truth, it must be knowable, and that since we can speak of the good it must be possible to discover and pursue it. But this is the very premiss that they will not concede without proof. 253

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Faith and scepticism When he first began to read the Sceptics, Augustine still entertained an interest in astrology. A chance remark on the simultaneous birth of two boys, one of whom was the son of a landowner and the other of his slave, caused him to meditate on the different fates which await those who are born in the same locality under the same configuration (City of God 5.5). In his City of God, this argument becomes the centrepiece of his refutation of astrology, with due acknowledgement to Cicero (City of God 5.2, 5.8, 5.9). Fate is defined by the Stoics as the necessary connexion of causes (5.8); Christians who do not fall into their error of taking Homer for scripture know that it was not the blind course of nature that assigned one lot to Esau and one to Jacob but the omniscient will of God (City of God 5.4). The fatalists who had threatened to seduce him in his youth, however, were not the Stoics but the Manichaeans, against whom he wrote his treatise On the Utility of Belief. Whereas this text argues for the necessity of submitting to the Catholic Church, as the sole trustee of the gospel, before we set ourselves up as experts in divine matters, Clement of Alexandria had already maintained in his Stromateis that pistis, which the Platonists deride as a vulgar counterfeit of knowledge, is the foundation of all philosophy (Osborn 1994). Like Justin Martyr before him (Trypho 2–4), he is happy to embrace the Sceptic’s view that none of the systems which have been at war for centuries is likely to be more true than other; both, however, urge that the superior antiquity of the Old Testament and the manifest fulfilment of its prophecies in the gospel furnish the church with that security in its first principles which is lacking in all the schools. All Christians would be Sceptics if the affirmation that God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts and his nature superior to our understanding were sufficient to make one a member of that school. The difference between the two positions, of course, is that the Sceptic is willing to doubt the existence of God, which the Christian takes to be axiomatic. Thus for Irenaeus our inability to account for the waxing and waning of the moon or for the flooding of the Nile does not lead us to argue that the causes of these phenomena are unknowable but that our intellects are too limited to fathom a truth that God has not unsealed (Against Heresies 2.28.2). Gregory of Nyssa’s declamations on the limits of knowledge are not designed to prove that one man’s notion of God is as fallible as another’s, but on the contrary, to rebuke Eunomius for setting the ebullitions of his own reason against the mysteries disclosed to faith in scripture and interpreted by the church. Arnobius of Sicca, in the first quarter of the fourth century, issues a similar retort to Greeks who mock the credulity of his coreligionists (Against the Nations 2.8.1). He draws his own proofs, however, not from prophecy or the antiquity of scripture – nothing is old or new in a universe that has no beginning – but from the unprecedented union of benignity and power in the acts of Christ. These reveal him to be at least an emissary of the eternal God to whom the universal conscience of the human race bears testimony; he did not come, however, to sate the curiosity of unbelievers regarding the origin of the soul or the cause of evil (1.7, 2.61; though cf. 1.38). If pagans scoff, the Christian may scoff in return at their traditions (1.57), some of which are admitted to be poetic fabling (4.32). Arnobius is not in fact determined to question the truth of all pagan theology, provided that they abjure beliefs which are manifestly unworthy of the gods, be they one or many (4.18; 6.1–3 etc.). The Christian knows his saviour and will therefore be content to entrust to his wisdom all the questions to which neither faith nor philosophy can return an answer. And thus, in the work of an author who was for many years a pagan, we see the return of an argument which had hitherto been deployed in the pagan interest: not “we believe in order to understand”, but rather “we cannot know, and therefore we must believe.”

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Bibliography: Primary Sources Arnobius (2017), Contro i pagani, C. Tommasi (ed.), Rome: Città Nuova. Cicero (1914), On Ends, H. Rackham (ed. and trans.), Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Cicero (1933), On the Nature of the Gods; Academics, H. Rackham (ed. and trans.), Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Philoponus (1898), In Aristotelis Categorias, A. Busse (ed.), Berlin: Reimer. Sextus Empiricus (1955), Works, R. G. Bury (ed. and trans.), 4 vols., Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Bibliography: Scholarly Literature Barnes, J. (1989), “Antiochus of Ascalon”, in M. T. Griffin and J. Barnes (eds.), Philosophia Togata, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Barnes, J. (1990), The Toils of Scepticism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Beckwith, C. (2015), Greek Buddha: Pyrrho’s Encounter with Early Buddhism in Central Asia, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Bett, R. (2000), Pyrrho, His Antecedents and His Legacy, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Brittain, C. (2001), Philo of Larissa, the Last of the Academic Sceptics, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Bubacz, B. S. (1978), “Augustine’s ‘Si Fallor, Sum’ ”, Augustinian Studies 9, 35–44. Burnyeat, M. and M. Frede (1997), The Original Sceptics: A Controversy, Indianapolis: Hackett. Glucker, J. (1978), Antiochus of Ascalon and the Late Academy, Göttingen: Vandenhoek and Ruprecht. Litwa, D. (ed. and trans.). (2016), Refutation of All Heresies, Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature. Osborn, E. F. (1994), “Arguments for Faith in Clement of Alexandria”, Vigiliae Christianae 34, 1–13. Sedley, D. (2013), “From the Pre-Socratics to the Hellenistic Age”, in S. Bullivant and M. Ruse (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Atheism, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 139–151.

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21 Philo of Alexandria Mark Edwards

Philo and his first principles The life of Philo (c. 20 B.C.–c. 50 A.D.) coincides with the birth of the Christian era. It also marked a brief epoch in Jewish intellectual culture and a longer one in the history of Greek thought, primarily though perhaps not only in writings which put Greek thought at the service of Christianity. His innovation was to take as the axiom of his philosophy, if philosophy it is, the infallibility of a body of texts which he had no hand in writing, thereby setting at defiance the common Greek view that the way to truth is by ratiocination from first principles, accompanied by the interrogation of common phenomena and received assumptions. Christians were to differ from him in subjecting this inspired corpus to a new hermeneutic grounded in the equally infallible, but more perspicuous, teaching of the New Testament: Platonists and Peripatetics, even in their most scholastic exercises, always presented arguments to justify the authority of their founder rather than citing his authority to silence argument. If even they are accused by modern scholars of an irresponsible sacrifice of reason to faith, we cannot be surprised that Philo is belittled as a mere exegete by historians of philosophy, even while modern exegetes allege that it was his vassalage to the schools that prevented him from grasping the spirit, any more than he grasped the letter, of his Hebrew vade mecum. What more might be expected of a man whose chief distinction in his own time, to judge by his presence on the embassy which the Jews of Alexandria sent to the Emperor Gaius in 38 A.D., was his fluency in the use of Greek? The object of this mission, which would have failed but for the death of the royal lunatic, was to dissuade him from erecting his statue in the Jewish Temple, thus creating the new abomination of desolation which is perhaps foreseen at Mark 13. This is evidence, no doubt, that he was a more faithful Jew than his nephew Tiberius Alexander: it is not evidence of his biblical erudition, or of his readiness to improve in Rome the arts that he had acquired in Alexandria (cf. Niehoff 2001: 111–151). For all that, the highest estimate of Philo as a thinker makes him the equal, at least in influence, with Maimonides and Spinoza (Wolfson 1962); the highest estimate of his exegesis suggests that, far from being a slave to the ambient culture, he was striving to bring that culture under the sway of a revelation who had hitherto held authority for no one but the Jews (Dawson 1991: 74–126). Both judgments recognise an indebtedness to rabbinic teaching which has not been captured by the 256

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current practice of labelling Philo a Middle Platonist (Dillon 1977: 139–183): this instrument of domestication is useful only to those who deny that the Western mind is the child of both Greece and Israel. This joint patrimony we owe in no small part to the fact that the opinions of Philo the Jew on the sources of religious knowledge, the nature of God and the purpose of creation appeared at just the right time and in the right tongue to be read by a brotherhood of deracinated Greeks who were independently persuaded that salvation is from the Jews.

Sources of religious knowledge Philo is confessedly a philosopher, but not a philosopher of any existing pagan school. In one of the most famous of his treatises, he extols the proficiency of the Greeks in the secular arts and sciences, but subordinates all these disciplines to the study of God, in which even the best of the Greeks have faltered for want of a revelation. This revelation has been conveyed to one people alone through Moses, whom the world knows as the lawgiver of the Jews. Philo too in the opening sentence of the first tract in his corpus, On the Creation of the World, gives him the appellation nomothetês or lawgiver, since Judaism is to him above all a politeia or way of life. The precepts which have been handed down by Moses are to be honoured to the last scruple, however arbitrary they might seem to an outsider; foremost among them are the Ten Commandments, inscribed by Moses himself on tablets of stone, and for the most part requiring no gloss, since they ask no more of us than to acknowledge the majesty of God (On the Decalogue 58–64) and to prove ourselves not inferior to his other creatures in kindness to our neighbour or in reverence to those who gave us life (Decalogue 111–117). At the same time, the more learned adepts of the one God will allow the Greeks to explain to them the sacred properties of the number ten (Decalogue 22–23; Creation 95 and 103), and when they read that the people of Israel witnessed the presence of God without hearing his voice, they will divine that the Law is addressed to the intellect rather than the ear (Decalogue 32–35; Migration of Abraham 47–48). Hence they will understand that the more elusive rationale for the laws which govern diet, worship and priestly vesture must be sought by the Greek device of reading the text as allegory. Philo makes no secret of his debt to the Pythagoreans, whom he praises in an excursus on Moses’ reasons for assigning seven days to the creation (Creation of the World 97). Pythagoras, of course, discovered only what Moses knew, and what God had written into the fabric of the world by providing that our lives should fall into epochs of seven years (Creation 103–105), that the seventh day should typically mark the climax of an illness and that infants born in the seventh month should be more apt to survive than those born in the eighth (Creation 124–125). The disciples of Pythagoras, however, hit on a principle which, though latent in scripture, was not clearly formulated in Jewish practice, namely that in a sacred injunction there are two elements, that which is heard and that which is understood. Ancient authorities frequently contrasted the akousmatikoi, who merely refrained from eating the heart or taking the common road because this was commanded, from the mathêmatikoi, who grasped the figurative meaning of these precepts; to the latter alone was imparted an understanding of the world as a system of numerical harmonies, although this deepening of knowledge did not exempt them, at least in the works of commentators later than Philo, from carrying out the ordinances in the most literal manner (Burkert 1972). In the same way, Philo argues that the literal washing of stomach and feet betokens the subjugation of all the appetites (Special Laws 1.206), that the unquenched fire on the altar should be a symbol of our unbroken return of thanks to the Creator (1.285–288) and that the animals which are designated clean or unclean are types of perseverance in virtue or else of dissolute pleasure (4.100–115). It is useless to be clean of body without clean in soul, but also impossible to be clean in soul without being clean of body. 257

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Like most ancient allegory, Pythagorean exegesis is largely stochastic: if the interpretation is more perspicuous than the original and patently edifying, it bears witness to its own truth. Philo too often follows no stated principle in his unriddling of dark passages, but he has at least three foundations to build upon: an infallible scripture, which even in its literal sense gives a true and comprehensive account of the cosmos; an omniscient and omniscient God who at his own will reveals himself directly to his servants; and a confidence in the capacity of every human being, as a divinely ordered composite of body, soul, speech and mind (On Dreams 1.25) to construe what has been written and to digest what has been directly revealed, so long as we do not permit our frailties to obscure the beams which God is continually raining upon us (On Dreams 1.114). These, of course, are not discrete sources of knowledge: the scriptures, in testifying to the steadfastness of God, receive in turn the suffrage of God himself to their infallibility (On Dreams 2.220–222); in their historical passages, they commemorate men and women who in their outward lives were paradigms of unstinting service to God, while in the sacred text their actions function as parables of the soul’s quest for wisdom and the perfection of virtue. Abraham was a man of flesh and blood who at God’s call forsook his native land and its idols; he is also the allegorical counterpart of every soul that detaches itself from the goods of the world and the toils of the body in order to unite itself with God. Moses, whose biography in the scriptures is eked out with many explanatory and apologetic inventions, is not only the legislator of Sinai but the type of every votary who has reached that plane of knowledge which is dark to our own intelligence, all but crossing the eternal boundary between creature and Creator (Life of Moses 1.156–158). Joseph is historically a master of worldly wisdom (On Dreams 1.16) and dramatically a witness to the power of the soul to apprehend truths that elude our carnal eyes. Abraham’s departure from Chaldaea is an image of the separation of intellect from the realm of common speech (Migration of Abraham 7), and the approximation of intellect to God is symbolised by his assuming the role of leader to others as he had once been led (Migration 175). In promising him that his seed would be equal to the stars of heaven, God informs us that the beauty of the celestial cosmos is mirrored in the soul (Heir of Divine Things 87–88). The division of sacrificial victims in Genesis 15 shows that Moses preempted Heraclitus in perceiving that the world is founded on binary oppositions (Heir 214); the undivided birds, by contrast, signify the integrity of the soul and of the heavens which are related to the earth as soul to body. The loftiest knowledge of God is attained, however, not by ratiocination but by the “horror of great darkness” which encompassed the sleeping Abraham at Genesis 15.12 – not the obnubilation of the mind by a sudden or chronic infirmity, not the thunderclap of dismay or even the mere serenity of contentment, but a divinely inspired enthusiasm (Heir 249), a setting of one light to permit the rising of another (Heir 264), which is recognised as something other than stupefaction or perturbation by the concomitant gift of prophecy (Heir 259.265). It is this sublimation of his mental powers that teaches us to seek the figurative import of his taking both a wife and a concubine – the mistress signifying the soul and the contemplation of God, while her Egyptian bondmaid stands for the body and hence for the lore imparted to the senses by the worldly or “encyclopaedic” arts (Mating with Preliminary Studies 24–26). Although the dreams which Joseph interpreted were sent by God, they are emblematic of his being a statesman rather than a prophet. Just as Philo emulates Plato’s classification of madness into four species when he distinguishes the enthusiasm of Abraham from three other kinds of trance, so now he echoes the simile of the Cave in Republic VII when he argues that the dreams which the statesman expounds are those of the multitude, who in waking life take false goods for real ones as though they were sleepers imaging that they see when their eyes are closed and that they walk when their bodies are still (On Joseph 125–131). On the other hand, there is no Platonic congener to the burning bush, discerned by the outward senses but understood, once 258

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Moses heard the voice of God, to be a figure of Israel’s resilience under perpetual affliction until the time when she could blaze forth with new splendour (Life of Moses 1.67–69). Since Philo affirms repeatedly that God does not speak as we speak (Migration 52), it is no surprise that the auditor to whom he confides the task of proclaiming his will should be rude of speech (Life of Moses 1.83); and even if God’s word is more truly seen than heard (Decalogue 47), the slumber of Abraham has already prepared us for the withdrawal of Moses from the camp to an impenetrable asylum in which he celebrates the mysteries (On Giants 54) alone. This, it would seem, is not the darkness of Sinai, for the anecdote is a conflation of two retreats at Exodus 33.7 and Exodus 20.21 (Cover 2015); the imagery attending the gift of the law in Philo is always of light and flame, and he commends at length the subsequent framing of the tabernacle and attiring of the high priest in imitation of a supernal prototype (Life of Moses 2.74–127). Nevertheless, the proper state of the prophet is to have taken leave of the senses, not to sink into insensibility like Noah (On Drunkenness 166) but to rise above every common test of sanity and decorum (Drunkenness 146–147; see further Lewy 1929: 1–41). This emancipation is characterized as a Corybantic ecstasy (Creation of World 71) – not a Platonic term but a reminiscence of Plato’s use of terminology from the mysteries – and he is not ashamed to recall ten thousand occasions when he himself, in a season of intellectual barrenness, has experienced a sudden inundation from above which has left him ignorant of his own identity, let alone of what he was saying, what he was writing or the names of his own companions, and conscious only of a surfeit of ideas, an intensity of light, a heightened vision and an energy not his own (Migration 34). The path to the only knowledge of God that is truly knowledge, therefore, is to accept the exclusive and plenary inspiration of the scriptures, to make oneself worthy of reading them by the cultivation of virtue – that is in Plato’s metaphor, by restoring the reins of the chariot to reason (On Husbandry 72–73) – and then, as Plato himself had intimated in the Phaedrus, by handing the reins from reason to the sanctified fury of love.

The nature of God What then is this God, so amply revealed, so seldom apprehended? The nearest approximation that philosophy can offer is the Pythagorean term “monad”, connoting not only primacy in the order of being but absolute simplicity of nature which admits no distinction of subject and attribute (Heir 187). Yet at Rewards and Punishments 39–40, God is higher than the monad, and at Special Laws 2.176 it is merely his image. He may also be conceived as absolute being in the light of Exodus 3.14, where he intimates that his proper name is YHWH, glossed in the Greek text as I AM and supplemented by the command to tell Pharaoh “He who is has sent me.” Philo also employs the neuter to on, “that which is”; but whatever the gender, that being whose nature is simply to be, uncircumscribed by any further epithet, can be pronounced superior even to the One and the Good (Contemplative Life 2). This is perhaps a calculated rebuttal of Plato, who states that the Good is superior to ousia (Republic 509b); no Platonist or Pythagorean, however, had yet declared the first principle to be superior to thought (Whittaker 1969), and Philo’s repeated affirmations that the deity is unknowable, ineffable and intangible, so that the mind slips away in trying to conceive him, carried theology to an altitude from which the pagan intellect had recoiled (Embassy 6). Indeed it was more usual to apply such privative epithets to matter, the elusive substrate of physical existence which, although we are bound to posit it, can only be, as Plato says, a spurious object of reason. While Philo is in no doubt that God is known to us primarily through his creation of the physical world, he speaks equivocally of the status of matter. At Allegory 2.160 he seems to regard it, in the Platonic manner, as an eternal potentiality, lying ready to hand 259

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before any act of creation; on the other hand, at On Providence 1.8 he insists that but for God there would be no matter even in its inchoate condition. The argument as to whether he was the first to postulate creation ex nihilo is occasionally clouded by the difficulty of ascertaining whether his subject is the physical or the intelligible universe (O’Neill 2002) The latter, residing eternally in the mind of God, resembles the paradigm of the Timaeus in containing the archetypes of all things that populate the material creation. The proper place of the forms within the divine mind is the Logos (Creation of the World 2 and 20–22), a term that is clearly biblical (Psalm 33.6), as it was never applied by Platonists to a supernal mediator between the first principle and the world. Nor was it employed by the Aristotelianising Platonists who, a century after Philo, inverted the relation between the paradigm and the demiurge of Plato by declaring that the transcendent intellect generates the forms (Rich 1954). Philo too believes this, and, while he is more cordial in his advocacy of the forms than any Platonist of his era, he writes as a Jew to Jews when he says that those who deny them will not stop of short of doubting the unity and the invisibility of God (Special Laws 1.327–333). As Wolfson observes (1961: 6–10), the Logos of Philo is not only the content of the divine mind but the means of decanting its infinite power to a finite world. Philo is in any case the first thinker known to have held that the forms are thoughts in the mind of God, not self-subsistent yet uncreated insofar as they have no temporal origin (Radice 2009: 131–134). The source of Philo’s nomenclature is no mystery to those who recall that Genesis 1 ascribes creation to the speech of God, which at Psalm 33.6 is styled his Logos. The Hebrew equivalent memra was one of a number of words that were used in rabbinic parlance in this period to betoken a mode of presence in the lower sphere that did not imply the subjection of God’s own nature to space and time (Moore 1922; Gieschen 1998: 112–114). While logos in common Greek is a masculine noun but not a personal designation, the Logos of Philo also bears the titles High Priest (Decharneux 1994: 117–126) and Son or Firstborn of God (Confusion 62–63; On Husbandry 51). These, like the occasional description of him as the image of God, attest his function as the plenipotentiary of the Creator who cannot mingle with his own creatures (On Flight 101; Confusion 41 and 146); another title, “sword”, shifts the emphasis from mere presence to power and judgment (Heir 140; On Flight 194–194; O’Brien 2015: 48–56). The Logos is also styled the chief of the angels, ambassadors of God who are incapable of evil (Confusion of Tongues 146, 177). Two other symbols of divine activity in Philo are Wisdom and the Holy Spirit, the first (as in Proverbs 8, Sirach 18 and the Wisdom of Solomon) a personification of God’s omniscience as creator and lawgiver, while the second is Philo’s own hypostatisation of a scriptural noun denoting the irresistible power of God (see further Levison 1995). The relation of the Sprit and Wisdom to Logos remains uncertain, but all imply some devolution of energy on God’s part without diminution of essence. While no incarnation of divinity can be imagined on Philo’s principles, Moses becomes a god to Pharaoh when he becomes the sole instrument of revelation to a benighted soul (Exodus 7.1; Migration 74; Runia 1988).

The purpose of creation A treatise On the Eternity of the World espouses the Peripatetic argument, which had not yet been accepted by all Platonists (Eternity of World 14), that a temporal creation of the world would be unworthy of its Creator (see further Runia 1981). If it were even coherent to posit time before the world (52), we cannot believe that he spent that time in idleness (83); if, as the Stoics imagine, he creates a succession of worlds, he is either reduplicating perfection or has fallen short of it (41–43); if he created the world to contain all things, there is nothing outside it that could 260

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bring about its destruction (21); the argument that the world is visibly undergoing corruption (and would therefore, in infinite time, have become extinct or homogeneous) is fallacious, for what we in fact perceive is not decay but the unceasing vicissitude of coming to be and passing away (113–150). Some deny this work to Philo, while others surmise that he wrote it to invite a refutation: his uncontested treatise On the Creation of the World maintains that the physical cosmos has an origin, coinciding with that of time, and that even the intellectual cosmos which is ontologically prior to it was created (though perhaps not in or with time) on the model of the eternal paradigm in the mind of God (Creation 17–22). This argument permits him to distinguish the incorporeal light of the first day from the visible radiance of the sun and moon (Creation 33 and 45); the ordering of the sensible realm, however, follows a temporal sequence, even if the mornings and evenings are figurative. Why was humanity the last creation? Because it was necessary that the kingdom should be made ready for its sovereign (Creation 77–78), because it was fitting that the end should be worthy of the beginning (Creation 79–81), and because the beasts would not have not have been so ready to fear him had he been their companion from the outset (Creation 83–84). The seventh day is the day of rest and consummation because this number, having no factors, resembles God in being simple and ingenerate (Creation 100). Two creations of humanity are recounted, the first (at Genesis 1.26–28) of the male and female in the image of God, the second (at Genesis 2.1–9) of Adam alone in paradise, to be followed at 2.22 by that of Eve. Since Philo cannot adopt the modern expedient of assigning one narrative to the Priestly Writer and the other to the Jahwist, he argues that, as the intellectual cosmos precedes the physical cosmos, so a heavenly archetype, at once male and female, preceded the embodiment of Adam (Creation 134–135). Even this carnal progenitor of ours, however, excelled his descendants immeasurably in wisdom, power and virtue (Creation 136–138): the fall from noetic communion with God into vicious and ignorant sensuality was the consequence of allowing his mind to be ravished by the beauty of his helpmeet Eve, or rather by her reflection of his beauty, thus forgetting and forsaking the proper object of desire (Creation 151–152). In this text, both the creation of the world and the planting of paradise are real acts, though many details of the narrative must be figuratively construed. The next treatise, by contrast, is an allegorical interpretation, in which paradise is no longer a terrestrial place, but seems to be equated with the condition of the soul before its fall (Allegory 1.43). The first man is again the heavenly archetype; the man “formed by God” at Genesis 2.7 is said (notwithstanding the immateriality of paradise) to be the earthbound mind, which would be for ever in thrall to vice were it not that the infusion of God’s own spirit has rendered it capable of reason and hence of virtue (Allegory 1.33–40). Philo introduces a further distinction between the man whom God made to guard and cultivate paradise and the man who is “placed” there without the moral capacity to exercise the virtues which are represented by its plants and rivers (Allegory 1.53–55). This is the one who is expelled from paradise; the other, earthbound mind though he is, appears to remain unfallen. In his treatise On Abraham 120–124, Philo declares that, while the highest object of contemplation is God himself, some merit belongs to a second class of seekers who contemplate only the divine goodness, and even to a third who contemplate only the divine power. At On the Cherubim 27–30, these two aspects of God, corresponding to the Greek designations theos and kurios (“God” and “Lord”), are personified by the two angels who are set to guard Eden after the expulsion of Adam and Eve. Can we conclude that the second and third class are nearing the gates of paradise, while those of the first have already reclaimed our primitive abode? In On the Giants, Philo allegorises the passage in which angels (not “sons of God” as in the Septuagint) descend from heaven to father giants upon the daughters of men. From the 261

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etymology of the Greek word for giants (gêgeneis, “earth-born”), he deduces that they represent human beings who remain irredeemably attached to the world. He contrasts them with those of a better order, who set their desires on heavenly goods, but these too are an embodied race and hence not to identified with a third, which has never fallen (Giants 14–16; 31). In this text, he asserts that angels, humans and demons are beings of one kind, distinguished only by their adhesion to vice or virtue (Giants 16): it would seem then that the angels are unfallen souls, the demons fallen souls who remain incorrigible and the humans souls who are capable of amendment. Philo also concludes from Genesis 6.3 (“My spirit shall not strive for ever”) that some embodied souls have been deprived of the spirit of God (Giants 19–21). Perhaps then, if we correlate the angels with the heavenly image of God in the Allegorical Interpretation, the possessors of the insufflated mind will be the humans of On the Giants, while the demons will be those who have no share in paradise (see further Winston and Dillon 1983). For all his apparent vacillations, Philo maintains consistently that the soul exists in an incorporeal state before its descent into the body, and at Heir of Divine Things 240 he states that the cause of descent is koros, or satiety. If the fall in Eden is a historical event which impaired the powers of the body and its sensory faculties, it does not in itself entail any inquination of the soul. Philo concurs with the rabbis who came after him in assigning two innate propensities to the embodied soul, one to vice and one to virtue, together with the untrammelled freedom of will to choose between them (Rewards 63). Like many Christians after him, he concedes that the natural man, for all his ignorance of God, is not always inferior to the elect in his moral discernment or his power of acting upon it: hence the unsurpassable feats of renunciation performed by such men as Diogenes the Cynic and the Indian sage Calanus (Every Good Man is Free 96–97 and 121). From Plato and the Stoics he adopts the tetrad of cardinal virtues – wisdom, temperance, fortitude and justice – and at On the Immutability of God 262–265 he argues that our pursuit of these should be tempered to the Aristotelian mean. The legislation of Moses – which, as we have noted, inculcates only what is prescribed by nature – excels that of every Greek school in its universal benevolence, manifested habitually in solicitude for the poor and the weak, and extending even to the recognition of duties to one’s enemy (On Virtues 118–117). Moreover, it is Moses alone who teaches – though no biblical text is quoted – that the person who lives in perfect obedience to the commandments has become equal in rectitude to God himself (Every Good Man is Free 43). Where Plato had defined the goal of philosophy as likeness to God so far as is possible (Theaetetus 176c), Philo sets no limits to our capacity to perfect within ourselves the “image and likeness” that were bestowed upon the archetypal man. Where Aristotle assumes that the contemplative life is compatible with the retention of worldly goods and the restriction of friendship to men of one’s social class, Philo’s treatise On the Contemplative Life extols a community of ascetics, the Therapeutae, who have put away all possessions and domestic ties and levelled all differences of class and gender (Contemplative Life 68; Taylor 2003). Being observant Jews, they meet as a body every sabbath to hear religious discourses; the intervening six days are spent in frugal solitude, with no avocation but the unceasing perusal of the scriptures. They keep no slaves and taste no wine (Contemplative Life 70–74), and after their meatless feasts they spend the whole night singing hymns in antiphony (79–84). The Therapeutae share their name with a guild of physicians devoted to Asclepius, but it has also been suggested that the Greek hints at a possible etymology of the name Essene (Vermes 1962). The notion that they were Christians has all but died with its first proponent Eusebius of Caesarea (Church History 2.17), who appears to have been seeking ancient precedent for the communal regimen that was turning the desert into a city in the Egypt of his own day (see further Inowlocki 2006). 262

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Philo and Christianity It falls outside the scope of the present volume to decide whether the creative logos of John 1.2 or the two-edged sword of the word of God at Hebrews 4.12 are already prefigured in Philo (Dodd 1953: 54–73; Borgen 2003); we can say at least that no incarnation of the Logos has any place in his thought, and that even the earliest occurrences of this title outside the New Testament are no more likely to stem directly from him than from the Johannine tradition. The author to the Hebrews shares his interest in the imagery of the Temple and its celebrant, but to him the priest in this world is a mere shadow of the true hierophant, and it is left to Epiphanius in the fourth century to produce a rival to Philo’s iconography of the stones on the High Priest’s breastplate. It is argued that the Greek prototype of the Muratorian Canon, a second-century relic of uncertain provenance, ascribed the Wisdom of Solomon to Philo, whose name was then mistranslated in Latin as ab amicis, that is “by friends” of Solomon (Horbury 1994). The lofty asseverations of the hiddenness of God in his genuine works found an echo in Clement of Alexandria (Hägg 2006), who thus became the pioneer of the negative way in Christian mysticism. Clement, who names his fellow citizen four times at Stromateis 1.31.1, 1.72.4, 1.151.2 and 2.100.3, describes him as a Pythagorean, no doubt because this school of renunciants set the example of drawing out the cryptic truth from a text whose literal sense appears nugatory (see further Runia 1993: 135–136, 1995). In other Christian writings, the rule is silent plagiarism from Philo rather than candid borrowing: some Gnostics strike a more extravagant vein of apophaticism, denying to the first principle even the privatives that take the place of attributes in Philo (Hippolytus, Refutation 7.9). At the same time, his contrast between the heavenly and the earthly man is phrased in terms that anticipate Gnostic myth more vividly than the gnomic antithesis of 1 Corinthians 15.45. The division of humanity into three classes, of which the first belongs to heaven and the third to the lifeless clay while the second is saved or damned according to its own choice, is regarded by catholic authors as a Valentinian error (e.g. Tertullian, Against the Valentininians 17); Tertullian, however, who is certainly no Gnostic, distinguishes the pneumatic elect to which he belongs not only from the heathen but from flaccid coreligionists (On Modesty 6), while Irenaeus, at least in one passage, concurs with Philo in denying the Holy Spirit to those who have turned from God (Against Heresies 5.6.1). Marcion’s subjection of the Demiurge, as blind dispenser of justice, to the benign God who redeems us through Jesus Christ may be a perversion of texts in which Philo reifies the goodness and justice of the Creator; but these passages might also be at the root of the primitive tendency to reserve the name “God” for the Father while venerating Jesus as Lord. They might also have suggested to the “Hebrew” teacher of Origen that the seraphim who stand to either side of God at Isaiah 6.3 are the other two persons of the Trinity (First Principles 1.3.4). Origen, though he mentions Philo only at Commentary on Matthew 15.3 and Against Celsus 4.51 and 6.21, is the first known imitator of his practice of expounding the scriptures verse by verse, with frequent recourse to tropological readings where the literal sense appears to him insufficient. Believing as strongly as Philo in the temporal creation of heaven and earth, he concurs with him also in allegorising heaven and earth as the higher and lower faculties of the soul (Homilies on Genesis 1). His understanding of paradise too resembles that of his predecessor – in its obscurity, if in nothing else. He mocks any literal notion of God’s planting a tree in Eden (First Principles 4.3.1), and asks naive readers whether they believe that the Creator of all wove coats of skin with his own hands for Adam and Eve (Epiphanius, Panarion 64.63.5). Nevertheless, it would seem that subsequent denizens of the garden must possess a body of some kind, for Origen writes that before they ascend through the spheres most souls are destined to 263

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undergo chastisement in the earthly paradise (see now Edwards 2019; Martens 2019). We may argue that his position is equivocal, or that it changed, or that, while he privately assumed the state of the blessed to be incorporeal, he sometimes chose to dissemble this belief. To discount the Latin translations rids us of his most perspicuous allusions to a paradise on this earth (e.g. First Principles 2.11.6) or on any new one; it is also possible that he imagined both a terrestrial and an incorporeal paradise, one for the purification of the soul and one to receive it when it has shed the last vestige of mortality. If, on the other hand we are willing to posit gradations of corporeality, we might argue that he endowed both Adam and the future saints with bodies of a more rarefied character, in accordance with his reiterated maxim that no being can subsist without matter except the three persons of the Trinity (First Principles 2.6.4 etc.). Greater perhaps than his influence on Origen himself (on which see Runia 1992) is Philo’s influence on the interpretation of Origen which came to prevail in late antiquity (cf. Bostock 1987). It is evident from his extant writings in both Greek and Latin that Origen attributes to souls some form of preexistence before their present state of embodiment. In view of his denial of transmigration and his insistence that no creature exists without a material substrate, many scholars would now contend that the seat of the unembodied soul is the mind of God (Tzamalikos 2006: 45), or else that the theory of its preexistence is advanced as myth, not as doctrine (Harl 1966). Origen’s detractors in the sixth century, however, allege that he believed souls to have existed from all eternity as discrete and naked intellects. This, we might say, is redolent of Platonism in general rather than Philo in particular; when the same critics add, however, that Origen imputes the descent into bodies to satiety (koros), they appear to be superimposing the use of this term at Heir 240 on a passage in First Principles (1.4.1), which appears in fact to be explaining not the cause of the soul’s captivity but the cause of its fall from innocence once embodied. Again they tell us that angels, humans and demons are all one species in Origen, set apart only by varying levels of moral degradation. Those who question the standard indictment sometimes propose that Origen has been burdened with the heresies of Evagrius – a hypothesis which substitutes one debatable list of charges for another. On the other hand, Philo’s advocacy of the same tenets is incontestable, since he was fortunate enough to be no heretic but an infidel, so that his books were not condemned. We owe to Eusebius both the first inventory of Philo’s writings and an excerpt from a lost dissertation on providence, which teaches us to see God’s handiwork even in the crocodile (Church History 2.18; Preparation for the Gospel 13.8.386–399). Runia (1991a) shows that Philo is the anonymous Jew whose teachings are rehearsed at length by Isidore of Seville; he is surely also the mouthpiece of those “Hebrews” who, according to Nemesius of Emesa, endorsed divination by dreams and held that humans are capable of immortality, though created neither mortal nor immortal (see Nature of Man 1.46, 1.56, 5.166, 12.201). Nemesius, however, has done scant justice to Creation 151, where we read that transgression is an inevitable consequence of the mortality that belongs to the outer man by virtue of his bodily nature. In contrast to Philo himself, his Christian admirers were bound to defend the resurrection of the body, even when, like Gregory of Nyssa, they maintained the ontological priority of the inner man and characterised the fall as a surrender of reason to animal desire. Origen is in any case the likely source for much that sounds Philonic both in Gregory and in Didymus the Blind – though not for Gregory’s assertion in his Commentary on the Song of Songs that the archetypal man was winged (GNO VI.448.1–4), for which the closest antecedent is an allusion to the wings of the mind at Rewards 62. His argument that we cannot expect to know God as he is when we cannot even fathom his image in the human mind (Making of Man 11), is more reminiscent of Philo (Change of Names 10) than of Origen’s comparison of human and divine mentation at First Principles 1.1.4–6. 264

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The provenance of texts from Basil and Ambrose in which Runia (1991b) detects unacknowledged borrowings from Philo is also open to debate. Whether or not Augustine was directly acquainted with the Allegorical Interpretation, he too interprets paradise both as a physical locality and as an image of the soul, though with the caveat (at least in his mature years) that allegoresis can never be a substitute for, but only a supplement to, the historical sense (On Genesis against the Manichaeans; On Genesis according to the Letter 4.28.45). His division of humanity into two cities in the City of God is foreshadowed in Philo (Confusion 108), but also in Plato, in Cicero and in the dictum of Marcus Aurelius, “The poet says, dear city of Cecrops; will you not say dear city of Zeus?” (Meditations 4.23). Philo is a Jew, who can relate with unabashed rancour the hideous death which God inflicted on the persecutor Flaccus (Against Flaccus 108–191). At the same time, as Daniel Schwartz observes (2009: 30), he espouses a Judaism whose headquarters is not Jerusalem but the heart and mind of the adept. He may have been the first to marry a version of the Stoic theory of natural law to the practice of the Mosaic commandments, but neither this innovation nor his doctrine of an intermediate Logos proved to be wholly irreconcilable with the philosophy of the rabbis (Winston 2009). He set the example of using allegory to vindicate both the completeness and the inerrancy of his ancestral scriptures, and also has a claim to be regarded as the progenitor of Christian mysticism (Louth 2007: 17–34). It must be admitted that evidence for Christian perusal of his works in the first few centuries is desultory, if by evidence we mean quotation or palpable indebtedness; the strongest proof of his fame, however, is not to be found in the witness of other texts but in the survival of his own, which (as he was all but forgotten by his coreligionists) is only to be explained by the assiduity of generation after generation of Christian scribes.

Bibliography Text of Philo: Loeb Classical Library, various hands (12 vols., with two supplementary vols.). Borgen, P. (2003), “The Gospel of John and Philo”, in J. H. Charlesworth and M. A. Daise (eds.), Light in a Spotless Mirror: Reflections on Wisdom Traditions in Judaism and Early Christianity, London: Continuum, 45–74. Bostock, G. (1987), “The Sources of Origen’s Doctrine of Pre-Existence”, in L. Lies (ed.), Origeniana Quarta, Innsbruck: Tyrolia, 259–264. Burkert, W. (1972), Lore and Science in Ancient Pythagoreanism, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Conybeare, F. C. (1890), Philo About the Contemplative Life, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Cover, M. (2015), Lifting the Veil: 2 Corinthians 3: 7–18 in Light of Jewish Homiletic and Commentary Traditions, Berlin: De Gruyter. Dawson, D. (1991), Allegorical Readers and Cultural Revision in Ancient Alexandria, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Decharneux, B. (1994), L’ Ange, Le Devin et le Prophète, Brussels: University of Brussels. Dillon, J. M. (1977), The Middle Platonists, London: Duckworth. Dodd, C. H. (1953), The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Edwards, M. J. (2019), “Origen in Paradise: A Response to Peter Martens”, Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum 23, 163–185. Gieschen, C. (1998), Angelomorphic Christology: Antecedents and Early Evidence, Leiden: Brill. Hägg, H. F. (2006), Clement of Alexandria and the Beginnings of Christian Apophaticism, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Harl, M. (1966), “Recherches sur l’origénisme d’Origène: la satiété (koros) de la contemplation comme motif de la chute des âmes”, Studia Patristica 8, 373–405. Horbury, W. (1994), “The Wisdom of Solomon in the Muratorian Fragment”, Journal of Theological Studies 45, 149–159. 265

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Inowlocki, S. (2006), “Eusebius of Caesarea’s Interpretatio Christiana of Philo’s De Vita Contemplativa”, Harvard Theological Review 97, 205–226. Levison, J. R. (1995), “Inspiration and the Divine Spirit in Philo of Alexandria”, Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic and Roman Periods 271–323. Lewy, H. (1929), Sobria Ebrietas, Giessen: Töpelmann. Louth, A. (2007), The Origins of the Christian Mystical Tradition, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Martens, P. (2019), “Response to Edwards”, Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum 23, 186–200. Moore, G. F. (1922), “Intermediaries in Jewish Theology: Memra, Shekinah, Metatron”, Harvard Theological Review 15, 41–85. Niehoff, M. A. (2001), Philo on Jewish Identity and Culture, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. O’Brien, C. S. (2015), The Demiurge in Ancient Thought, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. O’Neill, J. C. (2002), “How Early Is the Doctrine of Creatio ex Nihilo?”, Journal of Theological Studies 53, 449–465. Radice, R. (2009), “Philo on Theology and the Theory of Creation”, in A. Kamesar (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Philo, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 124–148. Rich, A. M. (1954), “The Ideas as Thoughts in the Mind of God”, Mnemosyne 7, 123–133. Runia, D. (1981), “Philo’s De Aeternitate Mundi: The Problem of Its Interpretation”, Vigiliae Christianae 35, 105–151. Runia, D. (1988), “Naming and Knowing: Themes in Philo’s Theology with Special Reference to De Mutatione Nominum”, in R. Van den Broek, T. Baarda and J. Mansfeld (eds.), Knowledge of God in the Greco-Roman World, Leiden: Brill, 69–94. Runia, D. (1991a), “Philo of Alexandria in Five Letters of Isidore of Seville”, Studia Philonica 3, 295–311. Runia, D. (1991b), “A Note on Philo and Christian Heresy”, Studia Philonica 3, 295–311. Runia, D. (1992), “Philo and Origen”, in R. J. Daly (ed.), Origeniana Quinta, Leuven: Peeters, 333–339. Runia, D. (1993), Philo and the Church Fathers, Leiden: Brill. Runia, D. (1995), “Why Did Clement of Alexandria Call Philo a Pythagorean?”, Vigiliae Christianae 49, 1–22. Schwartz, D. (2009), “Philo, His Family and His Times”, in A. Kamesar (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Philo, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 9–31. Taylor, J. A. (2003), Jewish Women Philosophers of First-Century Alexandria, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Tzamalikos, P. (2006), Origen: Cosmology and Ontology of Time, Leiden: Brill. Vermes, G. (1962), “Essenes and Therapeutae”, Revue de Qumran 3, 494–504. Whittaker, J. A. (1969), “Επεκεινα νου και ουσιας”, Vigiliae Christianae 23, 91–104. Winston, D. (2009), “Philo and Rabbinic Literature”, in A. Kamesar (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Philo, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 231–253. Winston, D. and J. M. Dillon (1983), Two Treatises on Philo of Alexandria: On the Giants and That God Is Immutable, Chico, CA: Scholars Press. Wolfson, H. A. (1961), Religious Philosophy: A Group of Essays, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Wolfson, H. A. (1962), Philo: Foundations of Religious Philosophy in Judaism, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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22 Orpheus, Mithras, Hermes Fabienne Jourdan, Mark Edwards

Introduction The last thing that we expect from a philosopher of our own day is a myth in the style of Plato – unless it be a poem or a ritual of the kind to which Plato’s myths were a corrective. Philosophy, we believe, should be an austerely cerebral exercise, which regulates life (if at all) by no other principle than reason, and stirs no emotions other than the logician’s delight in the clarity and economy of a well-formed argument. We hesitate to admit Nietzsche and Erasmus to our histories of philosophy; we are gracious to Xenophanes, Heraclitus, Parmenides and Empedocles because Aristotle has already marshalled them into a canon, but we barely consider the claims of Homer and Hesiod and are happy to remain ignorant of the Orphics, who do not even have a secure place in the annals of literature. The philosophers of the Roman world thought otherwise, and the more scholastic Platonism becomes the more apt it is to gild a piece of exquisite reasoning with a summary or quotation of the Thracian bard, whose authority seems to stem, like that of the prophets in Christian writings of the same epoch, from the very obscurity of his archaic diction. We should know much less of Orphism but for Proclus; by contrast, we should possess abundant evidence of the cult that we know of Mithraism if not a word survived of ancient Greek or Latin literature. What we would never guess from the artefacts is that Mithraism had any pretensions to be a philosophy, for this we learn only from Porphyry, or rather from the predecessors whom Porphyry cites, together with the Christian invectives that were inspired both by the cult itself and by his advocacy. If Mithras was to Porphyry what Orpheus was to Proclus, Hermes holds an even more eminent place in the philosophy of Iamblichus, at least if we judge by his treatise On the Mysteries; the writings ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus survive independently and are clearly philosophical in form and intention, notwithstanding a popular and sometimes oracular manner which deterred the more strict practitioners from taking notice of them, then or now. Orpheus, Mithras and Hermes may not satisfy our definition of philosophy, but in the ancient world they enhanced the religious tone that was never wholly absent from the most fa